Treating your workers as expendable machines

To The Guardian

I fear the plight of the middle class is even worse than Larry Elliott portrays. In addition to being “hollowed out” and suffering stagnant incomes, much of the middle class – public and private sector – has been subjected for two decades to increasing workplace monitoring and micromanagement, bureaucratic control, corporate compliance obligations, target-chasing, constant appraisals, the loss of automatic pay increments based on length of service, hot-desking in battery-farm open-plan offices, “presenteeism” and attacks on “unaffordable” occupational pensions.

Many of the middle class used to enjoy relative autonomy, creativity and professional discretion, based on expertise and trust, in performing their jobs; not any more. Now they are treated as automatons, with any sign of individuality or personality viewed with suspicion by management.

While many politicians and commentators like to pretend that “we are all middle class now”, the reality is that much of the middle class is experiencing “proletarianisation” – they are being treated with the same disdain and dispensability as the working classes have always been.

Pete Dorey, Bath, Somerset. (The Week, 10 May 2019)

I don’t understand where this approach to people-management came from, but I suspect a good bit of it originates in the business schools.   In my personal experience only a few lecturers at business schools have any actual down-and-dirty management experience, but they are very enthusiastic about bottom lines and systems and share prices.

My impression is that the heart and humanity has been excised from matters of commerce and business, whereas management is all about Epicurean teamwork, encouragement, even having a bit of fun along the way.  The new breed of managers  seem driven and humourless – the sort of people who regard their fellow workers as machines.  Nowhere is it recorded, but I suspect Epicurus would maintain that workers should go to work happily and enthusiastically.

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