Title: Donning the mask: the impact of Covid-19 on emotional labour performance

Authors: Niamh Lafferty; Sarah MacCurtain; Patricia Mannix McNamara

Addresses: Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Castletroy, Limerick, V94 T9PX, Ireland ' Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Castletroy, Limerick, V94 T9PX, Ireland ' School of Education, University of Limerick, Castletroy, Limerick, V94 T9PX, Ireland

Abstract: Emotional labour, the workplace management of emotions, is integral to work performance and relies on the observation and recognition of emotion in the service industry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a sudden global increase in the number of employees and service users required to wear face masks, resulting in a new normal for emotion expression and emotion recognition in the emotional labour performance. This paper explores emotional labour theory and proposes a theoretical consideration of the challenges and benefits this modification to the service user-employee interaction may have. Suggested challenges include changes to the service user-employee relationship due to impaired communication and increased customer anxiety and frustrations. Organisational responses are discussed in relation to training and cross-industrial sharing of knowledge. Finally, opportunities for organisational research are discussed alongside suggestions for future research.

Keywords: emotional labour; COVID-19; coronavirus; face masks; customer service; customer interactions.

DOI: 10.1504/IJQI.2021.117187

International Journal of Quality and Innovation, 2021 Vol.5 No.2, pp.141 - 157

Received: 12 Aug 2020
Accepted: 24 Sep 2020

Published online: 09 Aug 2021 *

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