Quarter of France Telecom staff 'psychologically vulnerable'
Study shows morale collapse
A quarter of staff at troubled telco France Telecom are on the verge of a nervous breakdown or worse according to a workforce study unveiled this week.
France Telecom began an investigation into its staff morale after a recent spate of worker suicides at the constantly resizing telco.
Unions at the firm said yesterday that the study showed that a quarter of the staff were "psychologically vulnerable", the FT reports.
Two-thirds of staff believe working conditions at the firm have deteriorated in recent years, and while 96 per cent of staff two years ago declared themselves "proud" to work for the firm, that figure has now slumped to 39 per cent.
Union leaders said the study vindicated their warnings about morale at the firm.
The firm saw 24 staff kill themselves in the two years to September. The suicides have been blamed in the main on a relentless restructuring programme at the firm, which has often involved shifting staff from one region to another.
In September, CEO Didier Lombard signed off a plan to try and ameliorate conditions for staff including a helpline, and an end to "personal and geographical mobility". Last month it put in place a plan to let staff who are nearing retirement work part-time. ®
The damage of civil service contracts
The resulst aren't surprising. The problem here is of open-ended civil service contracts (60,000 employees at France Telecom have these), which clearly state the employee cannot be fired. Read that again, whatever happens, the employee cannot lose his job. So with soaring debt a shrinking market and a huge surplus of employees that cannot be fired, the next best thing is to motivate them to leave. France Telecom even recently offered people the opportunity to leave and to start up a new business, all of which would be funded by France Telecom. If the new venture were to fail, they would be guaranteed a job on returning to France Telecom. This is the result of a "job for life" , the outdated Socialist idiom so prevalent in France today...
The suicide rate at France Telecom is not out of the ordinary for France as a whole; it employs roughly 100 000 people in France, and the suicide rate per 100 000 for people of working age is approx 21.5; much worse for men, at ~31.7 (year 2006 figures).
It's difficult to compare figures to the UK directly,but taking all age groups, France had 25.5 (men) and 9 (women) /100 000 in 2006 while the UK had 17 (men) and 5 (women)
So the question is not what is special about France Telecom, but what is particularly depressing about France?
Marvellous fun this statistics lark is...
"1 in 3 people will suffer from mental illness during their life, hence 33% of the population is phychologically vulnerable but only 25% of France Telecom employees are"
Note the "during their life" bit! 25% of France Telecom employees are having such problems *right now*. That's pretty darn high. Prevalence of mental illness *right now* in the general population doesn't generally get much above the 10% mark, and that includes ailments that aren't very correlated with suicides, such as OCD, ADHD and narcolepsy.