Emotion work and well-being of client service workers within small and medium enterprises / Sonja Joubert
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Frontline client service workers are central to the service elements of any small and medium enterprise. People who have much customer or client contact are seen to be subject to stronger emotional display rules. These display rules may result in compromising the psychological and/or physical health of workers, because they often lead to a disturbing dissonance between felt emotions and the emotions one must exhibit. It is, therefore, of vital importance for service workers to exhibit Emotional Intelligence, which will enable them to manage both their own emotions and their interactions with other people. Their inability to do so may result in stress as well as physical and emotional exhaustion, also known as Burnout. The objective of this research was to determine the relationship between Emotion Work, Emotional Intelligence, Well-being and Social Support of client service workers within small and medium enterprises, A cross-sectional survey design was used. An availability sample was taken from small and medium enterprises employing client service workers in the Mpumalanga Province (N = 145). The Greek Emotional Intelligence Scale (GEIS), Frankfurt Emotion Work Scales (FEWS), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI) and Social Support Scale, as well as a biographical questionnaire were used as measuring instruments. Cronbach alpha coefficients, factor analysis, inter-item correlation coefficients, Pearson product moment correlation coefficients, stepwise multiple regression analysis, and Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) were used to analyse the data. Principal component analysis resulted in a one-factor solution for Engagement labelled Work Engagement, and a two factor solution for Burnout namely: Disengagement and Emotional Exhaustion. Regarding Social Support, a three factor model was extracted namely; Social Support - Co-worker, Social Support -Supervisor and Social Support - Family. A three factor model was extracted for Emotion Work namely: Emotional Dissonance, Display of Client Care and Extent of Client Interaction. A four-factor solution was extracted for Emotional Intelligence namely: Emotional Expression/Recognition, Use of Emotions to Facilitate Thinking, Control of Emotion as well as Caring and Empathy. An analysis of the data indicated that all of the correlations between the different constructs mentioned below are statistically and practically significant, Disengagement was positively related to Emotional Exhaustion and negatively related to Emotional Expression/Recognition, Emotion Use to Facilitate Thinking and Work Engagement. Emotional Exhaustion was positively related to Emotional Dissonance and negatively related to Emotional Expression/Recognition. Emotional Dissonance was positively related to Display of Client Care, while Display of Client Care was positively related to Extent of Client Interaction, as well as Caring and Empathy. Emotional Expression/Recognition was positively related to both Emotion Use to Facilitate Thinking and Work Engagement. Emotion Control was positively related to Emotion Use to Facilitate Thinking, while it in turn was positively related to Work Engagement. Finally, Social Support from Co-workers was positively related to Social Support from Supervisors and Family, and Social Support from Supervisors was positively related to Social Support from Family. A multiple regression analysis indicated that Emotion Work, Social Support and Emotional Intelligence predicted 29% of the variance in Work Engagement, 30% of the variance explained in Disengagement and 37% of the variance in Emotional Exhaustion. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) which was used to determine differences between the departmental, age, race, qualification, language and gender groups with regard to Emotion Work, Emotional Intelligence, Well-being and Burnout, indicated no statistical significant differences (p < 0,05). The results indicated a correlation between Emotional Intelligence, Emotion Work and Well-being factors. Emotional Intelligence factors predicted Work Engagement and Emotion Work predicted Emotional Exhaustion. Recommendations were made for the profession of client service work in small and medium enterprises, as well as for future research purposes.
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