Objective: To explore the mediation role of emotional labor in the relationship between workplace
ostracism and emotional exhaustion, aiming to provide pratical implications to manage workplace ostracism. Methods: Using time-lagged survey, a total of 379 valid responses were collected at two time points from nurses in a tertiary hospital in Chengdu, including data of demographics,workplace ostracism, emotional labor (surface acting and deep acting) and emotional exhaustion. Structural Equation Model (SEM) was employed to test the relationships. Results: The means of key variables were:workplace ostracism (1.39±0.45), surface acting (1.73±0.75), deep acting (2.94±0.83), and emotional exhaustion (3.53±1.17). There was a significant positive relationship between workplace ostracism and surface acting (p<0.001), just as well as the relationship with deep acting(p<0.01). Surface acting leads to emotional exhaustionof nurses (p<0.01) and mediates the positive relationship between workplace ostracism and emotional exhaustion. Deep acting was not sngificantly related to emotional exhaustion(p>0.05). SEM analysis demonstrated an acceptable and reasonable model fit. Conclusion: The surveyed nurses reported a medium and low level of perceived workplace ostracism and emotional labor, but a high level of emotional exhaustion; Workplace ostracism has a positive effect on nurses’ emotional exhaustion via surface acting. Hospital administration should take measure to prevent and intervene workplace ostracism, to provide organizational and supervisory supports to nurses, and particularly to enhance nurse’s emotional management skills and encourage use of deep acting strategy to mitigage the detrimental effects of workplace ostracism.