Saturday, October 17, 2009

Problems in France Telecom

If Reliance Communications is beset with special audit problems, France Telecom is in throes of a much graver crisis. The Economist says that there is an "epidemic of unhappiness" in FT. The company is worried that it is very inefficient in the human side of management. It has recently hired the services of a consultancy firm, Technologia, to grapple with the shocking rate of suicide among its employees. 24 Employees committed suicide since early 2008. ( The 25th suicide occured on 15th Oct.)Existential angst and consequent despair with life is said to be widely prevalent in other French companies like Renault, Peugeot and EDF.
This is very surprising. The French are not Japanese. The French work shorter week hours, have longer weekends and have a leader in Sarkozy who advocates adoption of Gross Happiness Index in preference to GDP. Is global recession taking its toll? In a survey conducted in 2008, France Telecom found that 67% of its workers felt 'stressed out' and 16% reported being in 'distress'. It is worth noting that this company till recently was owned by the state. Is the transition from public sector a matter of concern for its employees? The spate of suicides has engendered calls for resignation of the company's CEO, Mr.Didier Lombard who has responded saying that he as a captain will not quit the ship in a storm.
Centre for Work-Life Policy has found that in the period from mid-2007 to end-2008, the proportion of employees who professed loyalty to their employers fell from 95% to 39% and the proportion of employees suspicious of their employers rose from 21% to 78% in America. Quite revealing statistics ! Thankfully, recession seems to be nearing its end.

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