Why is a compassion culture better for all stakeholders in capitalist societies including shareholders?
Besides the threat of unheralded injury claims from toxic workplaces that put businesses in jeopardy (as I explained in “The Great Reset At Work“)…
it is my thesis that a great deal of work done by white collar workers is ‘just in case’ work which is really about making self-interested managers look good, or addressing their anxiety over potentially appearing bad to their domineering managers, rather than actually adding value to the business.
I have witnessed the rise of ‘just in case work’ from many sources over many years.
And yes, this is highly related to David Graeber‘s famous “Bullshit Jobs” thesis where he argues that over half of work is pointless and knowing this does harm to those who are made to perform this work.
After the extended period of Extreme capitalism, many workplaces are operating manically, and managers down through the hierarchy are thus incapable of making good decisions to increase productivity by genuine efficiency measures. Executives have continually initiated restructures to achieve efficiencies which in the main are a euphemism for smaller workforces.
Headcount cuts just drives that viciously manic cycle and actually decreases pure productivity (quantity of work adjusted for quality relative to effort) thus burning out workers trying desperately to, at best, appear to be as productive as before the headcount cuts by increasing their own effort even further.
All of this is worsened by ubiquitous communication technology eliminating separation of work and home life.
This explains the negative stimulus behind the Great Resignation/Reshuffle and Quiet Quitting.
(Of course the positive stimulus is Great Reset era thinking that a better work life balance, and an identity less entwined with ‘what I do’ for income, is indeed attainable.)
This describes the reality of many large organisations, and the consequence has been an enormous experiment to see how long before large numbers of human beings ‘break’.
The evidence, from many sources including from insurers, suggests that point was surpassed in the past decade.
Of course in small businesses the reality is somewhat different in that actively involved owners will immediately seek to eliminate inefficient ‘just in case’ and other pointless work if detected.
The more tenuous nature of the small business workplace, however, incentivises small business owners to exploit workers and owners use this to justify their own poor behaviours to themselves.
This behaviour is systematically supported in two ways. After decades of Extreme capitalism, regulatory capture by business groups including small business means that regulation and enforcement is not as active as it should be to protect workers from exploitation.
Secondly, when the worker knows that there is as high a chance of being overworked and burnt out in a large corporate business as a small business, ‘better the devil you know’ becomes a strong factor in accepting exploitative practices.
If large corporations develop a ‘compassion culture’, and if Governments regulate and enforce for it, then small businesses will have no choice but to follow, and businesses that are viable only by exploiting workers will be exposed as unsustainable.
This will lead to much better allocation of resources in economies, and thus will actually strengthen our capitalist societies.
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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2022