LONDON — I read with horror this morning about the situation that France Telecom find themselves in. And at the same time I feel a bit guilty about it too.
I love France and the people in it. I went to school there and would sincerely love to live there again. And I am passionate about work and how people work together.
And today I read about a business that is so stuck in to the way of operating that people are literally dying because of their work. The 24th suicide has taken place amongst their staff. The latest, a 51-year-old father of two, left a note saying that the “atmosphere at work” was responsible.
How tragic, pathetic and unfathomable is that?
Unfortunately it’s not uncommon. Every time I write about systemic abuse at work, I get notes from people saying they have suffered from it. Tragic, pathetic, unfathomable notes.
For me there is no excuse. And it shames anyone who tries to make one.
Believe me, I am not egotistical enough to think that I could have ‘saved’ these people. I am not suggesting the fatal flaw was not hiring me. But companies need to open their doors more and look around. We get caught up in our own little dramas and think that there is no way out. From a management perspective there is always another way. Restructurings largely fail. And they fail because they do not take people along with them.
We work with a lot of heavy industries. I have heard stories of heads being knocked off by cranes and people too scared to report accidents for fear of ruining their health and safety statistics. But people who work at a desk, talking to people suffer a whole different kind of pressure and psychological battles that are often hard to understand.
Nonetheless, it is their employer’s job to understand them.