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Job demand and employee well-being: A moderated mediation model of emotional intelligence and surface acting

Shazia Nauman (Riphah School of Business and Management, Riphah International University, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Usman Raja (Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Inam Ul Haq (Lahore Business School, University of Lahore, Lahore, Pakistan)
Waqas Bilal (Lahore Leads University, Lahore, Pakistan)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 31 May 2019

Issue publication date: 22 July 2019




The extant research on emotional labor (EL) has focused on positive and negative outcomes observed in the workplace; however, many fundamental questions remain unanswered. The research has yet to consider what factors buffer the negative outcomes of EL. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between workload job demand and employee well-being with mediating effects of surface acting (SA) and moderating effects of emotional intelligence (EI) in service organizations.


The authors used two wave data from a sample of 207 emergency medical technicians to test the hypotheses.


By integrating SA, EI and employee well-being with the conservation of resource theory, the authors found evidence of an indirect effect of workload job demand on emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction via SA. The results of moderated mediation show that the negative relationship between SA and job satisfaction was low when EI was high and the positive relationship between SA and emotional exhaustion was low when EI was high.

Research limitations/implications

A major limitation of the present study is that all the participants were male and drawn from a single profession within the same organization. Another limitation is that the data were collected through self-reports.

Practical implications

This research has important theoretical and practical implications for service organizations wishing to buffer the harmful effects of SA on employees. This study presents key theoretical implications for the EL and well-being literatures. An important practical implication is that EI is a good resource for managing SA’s negative outcomes.


The current study contributes to the extant research by showing that workload job demands have negative effects on employee well-being via SA resulting in reduced job satisfaction and increased emotional exhaustion. Further, the negative outcomes of SA on employee well-being can be buffered through EI by taking EI as an emotional resource. High level of EI helps employees to mitigate the harmful effects of SA.



Nauman, S., Raja, U., Haq, I.U. and Bilal, W. (2019), "Job demand and employee well-being: A moderated mediation model of emotional intelligence and surface acting", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 1150-1168.



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