The toll of service climate on employees: an emotional labor perspective

Tal Katz-Navon, Dana R. Vashdi, Eitan Naveh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The existing research on service climate emphasizes its benefits for customers, employees and organizational outcomes. Service climate translates into organizational expectations from service employees to continuously show appropriate emotions when engaging with clients. However, these expectations may also take a toll on employees, who need to regulate their emotions using emotional labor strategies in order to conform to the organization’s expectations. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between the service climate and employees’ use of emotional labor strategies, and investigate how service employees’ service knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAOs) affect this relationship. Design/methodology/approach: In two separate studies, one with a sample including 100 nurses working in 15 wards, and the other comprised of 244 luxury hotel chain employees working in 39 departments, participants were surveyed about their perceptions of the service climate and their use of emotional labor strategies. In addition, each participant’s direct manager assessed his/her service KSAOs. Findings: Results demonstrated a positive association between the service climate and the use of surface emotional labor strategies for employees who had limited service KSAOs. Practical implications: Organizations may choose to hire service employees based on their service-related KSAOs and develop training and development programs for those who have fewer capabilities in these areas. In addition, organizations may want to rethink the traditional climate-induced emotional display rules and emphasize instead more authentic service encounters in order to lessen the toll that service climate takes on certain employees. Originality/value: While service climate depicts the core values and beliefs of the organization about service, and helps employees to translate them into behaviors that promote high service performance, the current paper points to a potential toll it may have on employees well-being due to their use of surface emotional labor strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Service Theory and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 22 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Emotional labour
  • Service KASOs
  • Service climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management


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