Your street team or other members of event teams deal with quite a bit of physical, and even mental, labor. But did you know that employees also struggle with “emotional labor” as well? When interacting with the public, event staff are required to bring their “professional game face” to their work.
The problem? Too much emotional labor can lead to burnout and stress. This in turn might have negative effects on the event, other staff members, and even your brand image. As an event manager, what can you do to help the team cope and be successful?
What is Emotional Labor?
Emotional labor is defined as the regulation of emotional expressions and feelings as part of the paid work role. Street teams and event teams are always accommodating and polite. They need to maintain worry-free faces and present their brightest smiles to event attendees and passersby. They need to look happy despite bearing the brunt of customer rants, disinterested attendees, or stressful situations.
Does this “regulation” compare to acting? Almost. In fact, there are two forms of emotional labor, or “acting styles”, that your event team members might practice.
The Two Forms of Emotional Labor
There are positive and negative effects of emotional labor. It all depends on which form the team members use when interacting with others.
Surface acting is when a person shows an emotional response, but doesn’t feel the same emotion. What is displayed on the outside isn’t what the person actually feels on the inside.
Situation: The street team event began a little over two hours ago. Your street staff, Carrie, is standing in front of a heavily-trafficked area and is handing out flyers to passersby. Everyone has been ignoring her and a few people made negative comments.
Surface acting approach: Carrie will feel negative emotions such as rejection. But she will hide it and move on with a smile.
Deep acting is similar to how actors immerse themselves into the character they are performing. Using the same situation as above, here’s the outcome when using the deep acting approach.
Deep acting approach: Carrie will imagine herself in the strangers’ shoes. She thinks, “they could be busy”, “they could be late for work”, or “they are simply not interested for now.” Moreover, she will choose to focus on to the positive interactions she made on another event day to help lift her spirits.
It’s easy to see the differences between surface acting and deep acting. But, it’s not easy to see what form of emotional labor a staff member applies to their own work situations until you analyze their performance based on results.
The Effects of Emotional Labor
Different results appear depending on the form of emotional labor used. So what happens to your company, event teams or street team staff if they choose surface acting or deep acting?
- Job dissatisfaction, stress and psychological distress
- Feeling alienated from one’s true emotions
- Feelings of a lack of emotional authenticity
- Experience “agitation emotions” like as anger, irritation, or nervousness
- Burnout, which has three components:
- Emotional exhaustion or being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work
- Depersonalization, which is an impersonal response towards recipients of one’s service
- Reduced feelings of competence and achievement
- Sense of personal achievement and authenticity
- Positive relationship towards recipients of one’s service
- Low chances of emotional exhaustion
- Better customer service
- Higher peer ratings
Surface acting has negative effects on an individual, affecting true emotions, motivation, and performance. Deep acting allows the individual to cope with negative situations in a positive and constructive way.
The Best Ways to Manage Emotional Labor in Event Teams
One of the best ways to manage emotional labor is to have a cohesive event staffing plan that is based on the right people and the right management style.
Tip #1: Choose your event teams wisely
Here are some tips to aid you in selecting the best people for the job:
- Use personality assessments that measure staff trait matches with the job requirements
- Teach your staff to use deep acting through trained imagination to ensure genuine emotions
- Use role play situations to teach cognitive re-framing skills and show staff how to handle emotionally difficult situations
Tip #2: Help your event staff recover from work
Here are some of the things you can do to achieve team recovery:
- Offer regularly scheduled breaks and time-out areas
Whether your staff members choose to do more surface acting or deep acting, the pressure of always staying positive in the face of challenges will still require emotional energy. Offer regular breaks and time-out areas to let them release the tension caused by engaging with different types of people.
- Provide social support
Make time to proactively talk to staff about potential work challenges related to their job. Offer deep acting tips related to the interactions and situations they might encounter, as well as talking points both related to the brand and overcoming consumer objections.
- Offer formal and informal rewards and recognition as a token of appreciation
Give your staff simple rewards such as snacks on their breaks, or a small monetary bonus for the highest achiever. Offer team leadership opportunities on future events or provide positive feedback to the agency if you utilized an event staffing partner.[Tweet “Make time to proactively talk to staff about potential work challenges related to their job.”]
Dealing with emotional labor is no simple thing. As an event manager, you can find ways to train your staff to be emotionally capable when working events and can provide them with ways to easily recover from the stress that event and street team work may bring.
Do you hire your own event teams? Or are you considering hiring an agency or changing event staffing partners? Contact EPS for a free event staffing assessment. We can discuss a specific event that you have coming up, or your event staffing needs as a whole. We would love to help you find the right solution for your event marketing needs.