Toxin handlers are organizational members who help colleagues manage
negative emotions in the workplace. Although toxin handling activities help
distressed employees remain productive, they put the toxin handler at risk
of emotional exhaustion. In this research, more than 400 HR managers described their experience managing emotionally charged employee problems.
We found that formalizing toxin handling responsibilities provided a buffering effect: HR managers whose organizations had made handling emotionally
charged employee problems a formal part of HR responsibilities experienced
lower levels of emotional exhaustion and perceived HR as more effective,
even when they engaged in high levels of toxin handling. Formalizing toxin
handling responsibilities may protect HR managers from harm and ensure
that they maintain the toxin handling function in their organizations. © 2009
Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Keywords: toxin handling, emotions at work, HR managers, job demands resources model
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