Study Has Nothing to Offer Winery Hospitality—So, Keep Smiling

Maybe wineries ought to encourage their tasting room hospitality workers to tell customers exactly what they think of them (and not smile so much). According to a report on a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology researchers found:

“a link between those who regularly faked or amplified positive emotions, like smiling, or suppressed negative emotions — resisting the urge to roll one’s eyes, for example — and heavier drinking after work. Alicia Grandey, professor of psychology at Penn State, said the results suggest that employers may want to reconsider “service with a smile” policies...the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work.”

I think this is one of those instances where you want to be very careful to separate the findings of a study from recommendations by the researchers who conducted the study. For example, I’m not sure wineries really want to reconsider the policy of “service with a smile” as Dr. Alicia Grandly, an author of the study, suggest.

What exactly would that look like in practice? Would the person behind the tasting bar simply walk away in disgust when asked, “Do you have something sweeter?”

It’s true that excessive drinking isn’t good and we don’t want our employees to pursue unhealthful drinking? But should that concern outweigh the policy of making visitors happy, comfortable and welcome? I don’t think so.

Moreover, consider this little nugget buried in the middle of the article describing the study:

“The researchers found that overall, employees who interacted with the public drank more after work than those who did not. Additionally, surface acting was also linked with drinking after work, and that connection was stronger or weaker depending on the person’s trait-like self-control and the job’s extent of self-control.”

So, in actuality, those who work with the public and are asked to put on a friendly face tend to drink more after work IF THEY ARE ALSO LIKELY TO HAVE SELF CONTROL PROBLEMS.

Maybe the job of wineries is not to allow those working in hospitality to roll their eyes at visitors or role their eyes at the customer when faced with annoying patrons, but rather to try to hire hospitality folks who seem to exhibit the ability to control themselves and their actions.

It was a long time ago that the popular press began reporting breathlessly on the latest study that appears to have shocking findings. It was about that same time when those reporting on such studies buried the caveats. There’s an awful big caveat to this study. It’s not that folks who are asked to smile in a retail setting are more likely to “be at risk for heavier drinking after work”, but rather people who need to smile at work and WHO LACK A SUFFICIENT SELF CONTROL MECHANISM that are at risk of heavier drinking after work.

I didn’t pay to download the entire study. So, I don’t know what “at risk of heavier drinking after work” really means. Nor do I know how “faked emotions at work” was measured. What I do know is that it is a very bad idea for everyone involved to reconsider “service with a smile” policies.


4 Responses

  1. Jim Bernau - April 15, 2019

    Pretty funny, thanks Tom. Now I know why I drink so much wine.

  2. Tom Wark - April 15, 2019

    Jim, Yes! It’s imperative you keep smiling…no matter what.

  3. Al Scheid - April 15, 2019

    The answer is to hire people who smile naturally. We can teach wine, but we can’t teach “nice.”

  4. Mark Wong - April 15, 2019

    100% agree with Al Scheid. Hire nice people that want to help people and are passionate about wine and great service.


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