HUMOR AS A MEANS OF COPING WITH EMOTIONAL LABOR IN AN AUSTRALIAN HOTEL
Kay, A.P.P. and Hatzinikolakis, J., University of South Australia, Australia
Emotional labor can impact greatly on employees and they may use a variety of ways of coping. The use of humor and the sense of having fun as methods of coping have not been researched greatly. There are some U.S. examples including Van Maanen & Kunda's (1989) study of Disney employees and Shuler & Sypher's (2000) case study of a 911 call center. A case study of emotional labor in the hospitality industry was carried out in an Australian inner suburban capital city hotel. Dining room, bar, drive-thru bottle shop and gaming room employees were surveyed by questionnaire and interview. One area of focus was their use of humor to overcome their emotional labor of working long shifts into the early hours and coping with drunken and unruly (mainly male) customers. It was found that, similar to the Shuler & Sypher (2000) case study, there was substantial use made of "joking", and discussing clients with other staff behind their backs as a way of relieving some stress. This leads to the issue of whether the use of humor should be managerially encouraged in service industries that involve substantial emotional labor, and what forms this could take.