Senior living frontline staff learn to master many skills on the job—including, as it turns out, a type of behavior that they feel is expected of them and can lead to burnout.
Specifically, these staff regularly engage in surface acting, which means acting one way on the surface but feeling another way on the inside, all while not empathizing with the other person they’re interacting with. By definition, surface acting is a form of “emotional labor” that, in practice and over time, can take a toll on the actor.
In senior living, frontline staff know that this type of behavior is expected of them. In fact, the overwhelming majority—92%—of senior living frontline staff know they are expected to manage any negative feelings they may experience on the job in order to maintain positive interactions with residents. In other words, they know they are expected to “surface act” while on the job.
That’s according to a new report from Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, the research arm of Evanston, Illinois-based senior living provider Mather LifeWays.