The savagery of the modern workplace

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S W LONDON — I believe that many modern workplaces defy the Geneva Convention. When the world economy is in tough times… like now… it only gets worse.

I am not suggesting physical abuse. Let’s be clear about that. Any physical abuse is and should be readily picked up by police. But I am thinking about some pretty heavy psychological shenanigans. And I am not sure that they are truly any better than the type that leaves bruises.

I have heard stories this week about friends forced to resign through depression — brought on by the prospect of being forced to resign. I have heard of people bullied into the most demeaning situations. I know people who are worrying themselves sick.

So a new Endemol reality TV show called Someone’s Gotta Go, doesn’t add to my joy. A company exec describes it this way:

“…the next thing that is topical and timely in the zeitgeist.”

The poor man’s interpretation of that quote is something more like: This is something causing real suffering at the moment, so turning people’s pain into entertainment seems like a good idea.

There are obviously both good and bad aspects of this plan. The bad is that people will again be humiliated. There will be tears and unhappiness. Normal people will be encouraged to act like cartoon characters… all so that others can laugh at them.

The good is that maybe it will be harder to act like an evil villain in the office. What shows like The Office and The Apprentice have done is prick the balloons of some of the more painful office behaviours.

Nonetheless, my view, and the reason why companies like Able and How are in business, is that organisations have an obligation to ensure that their people are well looked after. I call it a ‘duty of care’, but in the old days it used to just be called loyalty. Too many companies now expect managers to make it up as they go along and employees to suffer the slings and arrows as part of their every day life.

That’s not right.


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One Response

  1. PeteM

    Sadly this post strikes a raw note with me. I’ve just been bullyed out of a job I loved, and one I did well, and as a result suffered a breakdown and severe depression. I’m now back trying to get back into the job market, but still find it very difficult to understand what happened to me. There’s a lot of shitty behaviour in the workplace that goes unchallenged, and all we can do is raise our consciousness (sounds a bit hippy I know), breathe deeply and then challenge where appropriate. All the while, watching your step.

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