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The France Telecom report

December 15th, 2009 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s all over. 88,088 questionnaires (out of 102000 sent out) and 20798 anonymous emails later, research into working conditions at France Telecom, which have generated 34 suicides over the last two years, has come up with its conclusions.

Guess what? People don’t like working there!

The working conditions are stressful, even violent”. “Management has failed, the employees have been orphaned of all sense, of leadership”. “Pride in belonging to the company has been lost”.

Well, this sounds a pleasant place to work, doesn’t it?

It gets worse. “There has been a fragilisation of physical and mental health, problems of recognition in face of managerial pressure”. And even worse – the most dissatisfied employees are to be found in the jobs where there is customer contact : city centre shops, help lines, and maintenance and repair teams, due to “demands of the work coupled with the complexity of the product range, the working environment and insufficient resources“. According to the trade unions, these are the areas where there have been the most delocalisations, subcontracting and temporary staff.

One other major areas of ‘waste’ reported : the number of layers of senior management and their inability to agree on anything.

Particularly targetted, the current Chief Executive, Didier Lombard, who has been doing quite well in business terms and especially in the area of international expansion. But if ever there was an example to be noted of the consequences of not getting out on the ‘Gemba’, this is it. Disconnected from reality, he’s taking the blame for everything. As one employee pointed out, “business for the sake of business is no good if there is no social cohesion in the company“.

This is a case study for all students of management to read up on. Unfortunately, over the past two years, the results of this transformation which has been anything but ‘Lean’ have been far too dramatic for 34 families and their close ones.

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