Human Services Consulting and Training

Emotional Labor

Just the other day at a workshop, after filling out a communication assessment, we heard this:

“I’m an engineer. This is all great stuff, but really hard to quantify.”

And later in the workshop, after we made another point, we responded by saying:

“You can quantify the effects of emotional mismanagement on the bottom line, in terms of lost productivity, health issues, declining quality of production, and overall employee disengagement.”

The engineer nodded his head.

Emotional labor lies at the final frontier of post-modern workplace considerations. It’s a space that care workers, mothers, therapists, and social workers have inhabited for years. And, in an economy where manually (or technically) laboring was once seen as scarce, emotional labor didn’t matter much.

And yet…

What kind of labor matters?

Well, the kind that can’t be outsourced:

The challenge in this paradigm shift (for every organization), comes when 20% of the people in an organization are doing 80% of the emotional labor.

But, emotional labor, moving forward in a world where more and more will be accomplished by fewer and fewer people, is the only kind of labor that matters.

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