Emotional labour and well-being for early childhood teachers: The role of psychological capital and perceived organisational support

Early childhood teachers play an integral role in the development of children enrolled in early childhood services, yet teachers often face stressful and challenging conditions that impact their well-being and consequently the quality of care and education they provide. Emotional labour, the requirement to suppress and express emotions as determined by the organisation, is considered a prominent component of early childhood teachers’ roles. Emotional labour is comprised of two display-rule strategies: Surface Acting where employees suppress their feelings and feign their emotions, and Deep Acting where feelings are modified to create a genuine performance of emotion. Both negatively relate to employee well-being, but we don’t know what personal or organisational resources might help protect early childhood teachers’ well-being. The present study sought to explore this, examining if Psychological Capital (PsyCap: hope, optimism, efficacy, resilience) and perceived organisational support could mitigate any negative consequences of emotional labour. The cross-sectional, non-experimental design surveyed 320 early childhood teachers currently working in New Zealand who completed measures assessing emotional labour, well-being, PsyCap, and perceived organisational support. Structural Equation Modeling examined the relationships between the constructs under investigation. The findings indicated that early childhood teachers who engaged in surface acting, but not deep acting, were likely to experience a decrease in well-being. The PsyCap resources of hope and optimism, but not efficacy and resilience, were found to be viable avenues to increase or protect early childhood teachers’ well-being, as was perceived organisational support. These results present a valuable contribution to our understanding of early childhood teachers’ well-being and highlight the importance of personal and organisational resources in supporting teachers.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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