Don't Fake It To Make It

Faking enthusiasm at work can have negative effects on employees. Luckily the credit union movement offers a lot to be excited about.


For writing gigs, cover letters are usually pretty important. So when I was applying to be a writer at, I thought long and hard about how I could convey that I am most qualified for the position. I wanted to highlight previous accomplishments, expound on previous employment, and in the end paint a picture of why I would love to be a writer/researcher for I wasn’t answering a prompt, this is just what I thought the cover letter should include. But, why the last bit? Why does it matter if I love my job or not?

Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild called this phenomenon “emotional labor” in her 1983 book The Managed Heart. Emotional labor requires a worker to create a positive customer experience, but until recently it was a strategy almost exclusively applied to sales. Now, nearly across the board, employees at all kinds of companies are asked to give that extra smile, warm greeting or gentle back slap. The New Republic published a piece this month titled “Labor of Love”about the forced enthusiasm that is part of the business model at London-based food chain, Pret A Manger. The chain has a list of Pret Behaviours such as “has presence,” “creates a sense of fun,” and “is happy to be themself,” that the company requires of employees.

“Pret doesn’t merely want its employees to lend their mind and bodies; it wants their souls, too. It will not employ anyone who is ‘here just for the money,’” author Timothy Noah wrote in TNR.

The problem? Hochschild and other researchers claim that faking these emotions can have adverse effects on the happiness of employees. Faking enthusiasm for nine hours a day will start to take a toll on the soul.

Luckily for credit unions, our industry is genuinely empowering members through financial services. Our embrace of the cooperative movement is an admiral business model that is not difficult to enthusiastically throw your support behind.

It also helps the bottom line. Credit unions’ whose frontline staff realize the benefits they can offer members are more successful at cross selling and capturing more of a members’ total business.The more your team members understand the benefits of the financial services they are providing, the happier they will be at work and the more positive the customer experience will be.


Feb. 28, 2013



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