The serious economic crisis Europe is undergoing is accompanied, particularly in France, by a great many company closures and the attendant raft of redundancies. In this context, social relations within vulnerable companies are more than a little strained. Reading this article by Hubert Landier, it is clear things are the same in most organizations, whether or not they are in good shape economically, for though workplace conflict has fallen off considerably in the last 30 years, it has given way to a phenomenon no less generally harmful: the disengagement of employees from their work or from their firms.
Hubert Landier shows here what that disengagement consists in (lateness, errors, poor workmanship, damage to equipment, stress, absenteeism etc.) and what its costs are for both the company and the employee. He then turns to the factors underlying this disengagement: the increase in the number of “social irritants” that have as much to do with the relations and behaviour within the company as with the methods of management or the perceptions the different parties have of them –in other words, far more with immaterial factors than with pay or working hours. Here Landier stresses the essential role management plays in the development of disengagement, but also the role it can play in remotivating employees. He reminds us, in passing, of the positive impact of workers’ well-being on the economic performance of companies and, going even further, takes the view that once companies have understood the importance of developing well-being at work, they will take the further step and, by listening to their employees, contribute to “better living in the community.”