Study: Fake Smiling at Work Can Lead to Heavy Drinking

By May 1, 2019For Talent

Service with a smile could actually be detrimental to your health.

Anyone who has worked in a customer-facing role will know that dealing with the public every day is extremely draining. You have to be cheery, polite and always put the customers’ needs first. It’s no surprise that retaining this facade can negatively impact employees’ health.

In fact, according to a new study, fake smiling at work may lead to heavier drinking after hours.

Researchers at Penn State and the University at Buffalo studied the drinking habits of people who work with the public. They found employees who forced themselves to smile and be happy in front of customers were more likely to drink heavily after work.

Penn State psychology professor Alicia Grandey told ABC News, “Faking and suppressing emotions with customers [is] related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively.”

She added: “It wasn’t just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work.”

The professor said that “smiling as part of your job sounds like a really positive thing. But it can be draining.’’

The study is based on a nationally representative survey of American workers who reported daily contact with customers, patients, or students.

The respondents were surveyed on how frequently they engaged in surface acting (faking and hiding expressions at work) and heavy alcohol consumption, both directly after work, and in general.

The study results confirm that employees who hide their emotions at work were more likely to report heavy drinking.

The exceptions to this trend were occupations like nursing. In this role, emotional labour is high but employees usually feel fulfilled by their work.

While nurses said they often hide or fake their emotions, they’re generally doing so to comfort a patient. This is completely different from faking emotions for a customer you’ll never see again.

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Author Alice Murray

Alice Murray is a Content Creator at Jobbio with a passion for Employer Branding and Graduate Culture. She's a keen traveller and a self-proclaimed lazy runner.

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