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Wednesday, November 01, 2020

Workplace Blues

Thanks to an article in Management Issues, I discovered these scary figures. Yes, they are from Great Britain, but I wouldn't be smug about that. My guess is that you would find very similar responses just about anywhere in the developed world. The article starts like this:
If three people are sitting together in office or meeting room, the chances are that two of them would rather they were in a different job and one couldn't care less about the organization they work for.

A new poll of more than 2,800 employees in the UK carried out for online learning provider SkillSoft has found that two-thirds go to work wishing they were in a different job.
A few nuggets from this poll include:
  • 20% of respondents say that they are simply bored.

  • Almost a third of those interviewed claim to have no loyalty towards the organization they work for.

  • Almost three-quarters said that they did not believe they were making the most use of their knowledge and skills.

  • When asked if they thought their employer recognized their potential, an overwhelming eight out of 10 said that they didn't.
Why am I not surprised by such negative findings?

In many of today's organizations, the workplace culture sucks. It has lost track with the notion that people come to work as people, not as mindless bits and pieces in some vast economic machine.
Partly it's because people often complain about their work—but do nothing about it. It's letting off steam, more than a solid determination to vote with their feet. But the major reason is this: in many of today's organizations, the workplace culture sucks. It has lost track with the notion that people come to work as people, not as mindless bits and pieces in some vast economic machine. Whatever you pay people (and I gather that the median CEO now gets more than 200 times the average wage in the USA, which probably explains why many in the survey felt they weren't being paid enough either), their satisfaction at work depends on these factors before everything else:
  1. The amount of respect and trust they are given by the organization.

  2. How good they feel about what they do, and whether they go home happy and satisfied at the end of the day.

  3. Whether they feel that they are giving what is in them to give, and developing towards whatever goals in life they have chosen.

  4. The extent to which they feel they are doing an honest piece of work that they can be proud of.
None of it has to be this way. This is not about business realities. It is mostly about corporate greed and shortsightedness.
Sadly, today's Hamburger Management approaches fail on nearly all of these counts. People are treated casually, pushed around, driven to exhaustion by continually escalating demands, rarely trusted to do anything without constant "appraisals" and threats, and often forced into producing shoddy work (or cutting corners and sailing very close to the wind, ethically), just to "make this quarter's numbers" and help the top people's stock options add a few more millions.

None of it has to be this way. This is not about business realities. It is mostly about corporate greed and shortsightedness.

By the way, I heard an interesting comment on the radio today concerning Big Oil. The commentator explained that pressure from Wall Street in favor of short-term profit seeking in the past caused the big oil companies to lay off thousands of skilled engineers and scientists. The result? Most went to work for independent oil-field support companies. Now countries hire them to by-pass the demands of Big Oil and do their own exploration and oil extraction. Big Oil is running out of reserves because their short-term greed indirectly created the means for countries like Russia to extract and sell their own oil and gas, without involving the oil majors at all.

What goes around, comes around.

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4 Comments:

Craig said...

Isn't the fact that most companies have "Human Resource" departments an indication of the current corporate culture, whereby people are simply treated as resource, along with computers, desks and telephones that the company needs to run it's business.

Should't we rather call it "Human Capabilities dept", or "Human Potential dept" or something similar, and start treating people as people with dreams, goals and ambitions, rather than simple resources or commodities?

12:41 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

I agree with you, Craig. I'm afraid that Human Resource departments are more usually part of the problem than part of the solution.

Keep reading, my friend.

6:56 AM  
Allen Unrau said...

I also am not surprised to see those figures - they correspond with what I see in most corporations today. I think that it's a direct result of the whole down/right/whatever-sizing trend that we've been seeing for the last decade. People will react as they are treated. They will respond with the same loyalty as they are given. If employees can tell that they are merely expendable 'resources' that can be sacrificed whenever the stock price dips, they will respond with the appropriate level of loyalty that view deserves.

Allen Unrau
http://extra-cubicular.blogspot.com

8:49 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Well said, Allen. In business, as elsewhere in life, you generally get the people around you that you deserve.

Keep reading, my friend.

8:53 AM  

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