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Service Industry Workers are at Risk of Becoming Alcoholics

25.09.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
Service worker

According to American researchers, people who are forced to mask their feelings with a smile while at work, tend to react after work.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the State University of New York at Buffalo examined data from the National Survey on the health effects of work stress. As part of a telephone survey, 1,592 service workers answered questions from the category “Do you often have to suppress negative emotions at work?”, “How often do you have to imitate positive emotions at work?”, “How often do you drink alcohol after work?” and also about other features of behaviour during and after the work period.

It was discovered that impulsive people who find it difficult to control themselves but have to because of the specifics of their work situation, drink after their shift more often than others – and drink in greater volume. They usually cannot stop after the first glass. Also, the service industry workers (such as employees at call centres and food courts) who, due to their occupation, are always in contact with various people, are at risk too. The need to keep smiling whatever happens while dealing with lots of visitors is morally exhausting and keeps one in constant stress.

There are exceptions like nurses and teachers. The work in these professions also involves constant contact with people, but they show a tendency to alcoholism to a lesser extent. The fact is that people mainly go to medicine or pedagogy to follow a vocation, so, they consider these professions to be the work of their lives, and the work itself brings them moral satisfaction. They hide negative emotions for the sake of other people –to calm them down or to establish trusting relationships.

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At the same time, work in the service sector is normally chosen as a temporary part-time job and is not endowed with any special significance. It involves constant interaction with visitors who can show aggression and project a bad mood onto the staff. The need to control negative emotions leads to the desire to relax with alcohol after work. And since constant stress and self-control at work reduce the ability to control oneself in other situations, these people often cannot determine a moderate measure of drinking.

The best way out of this situation may be in providing employees with greater freedom and independence in their choice of emotions. Trust on the part of the employer and encouraging goodwill will bring better results than punishing for negative emotions or instigating other crackdowns.