Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Corporate suicides

France Telecom has had a rash of suicides, the Economist reports, 24 suicides since 2008. The reason? It is making the transition from state monopoly to MNC and at least new recruits don't enjoy job security.

The Economist notes that corporate suicides are an extreme expression of a pervasive problem: unhappiness at work. It provides some reasons:
The most obvious reason for the rise in unhappiness is the recession, which is destroying jobs at a startling rate and spreading anxiety throughout the workforce. But the recession is also highlighting longer-term problems.....A second source of misery is the drive to improve productivity, which is typically accompanied by an obsession with measuring performance....A more subtle problem lies in the mixed messages that companies send about loyalty and commitment. Many firms—particularly successful ones—demand extraordinary dedication from their employees. (Microsoft, according to an old joke, offers flexitime: “You can work any 18-hour shift that you want.”)
So, what can be done? More rights for workers, better HR, better communication... well, yes. The article also suggests that Europe's demographics - falling birth rates and caps on immigration- will strengthen employees' bargaining powers.

All this is fine. But, there is a simple fact that the article seems to overlook. People are unhappy in their jobs because they are doing things they don't really like. This is true not just of managers but of lawyers, doctors and other professionals. Society trains people to survive and be successful, not to pursue one's true vocation. In the performing arts, one often finds people supremely satisfied even though people are not financially well off.

So, of course, we need to improve the work culture and HR. But, the secret of happiness in one's job lies ultimately in doing what one enjoys doing.

5 comments:

Paddy Killimangalam said...

Spot on Sir.

Partha Pratim said...

Well known fact, the only problem is that the 'money' factor changes every priority. Not for everyone certainly.

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pintu.jucse07 said...

yah,well known facts...but it is being more relevant to indian life also,day by day..expect sir to throw light over this aspect also...

Raj said...

Not all of us can manage to do what one enjoys doing. Far simpler to try to enjoy what one is destined to do.