The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

systematicHR Avatar

No pun intended. But I’m troubled and I don’t get it.

This morning the acting CFO over at Freddie Mac committed suicide.  He was brought in after the bailout, so theoretically he should not have a ton of direct responsibility over the causes of the current economic crisis.  People seem to be committing suicide at an alarming rate.  Just over the Golden Gate Bridge from me in Marin, a bond trader with a good life and a great family jumped from the bridge last month.  I suppose I (kinda) understand when you embezzle money, get caught, and are going to spend the rest of your life in jail.  But these are smart people with good lives facing a period of hard work.  Maybe you can’t feed yourself and your life really sucks.  But neither of these cases is true for many people bailing out on life right now.

I don’t have any false ideas that the cultur and environment at most financial institutions are deeply negative right now, and yes, I too preach that you want very highly engaged employees.  But when employees are literally killing themselves over their responisbilities at work, possibly because the work and work environment are so bad, this is quite a terrible thing.

I know, I know, people commit suicide for many reasons and being overly engaged with the workplace is probably not that high on the list, but it troubles me that people are dying because their work life sucks.  Companies go around and freeze pay hikes, do RIF’s, cut back budgets and stop impotant projects.  Employees feel undervalued, threatened, and are always on the edge.  We have become reactionary and tactical.  As soon as something bad in the economy happens, we forget about the positive strategic things we’ve been talking about for years.  We forget that productivity lies in a pool of happy, positive, encouraged and engaged employees.  Not people fearful of their jobs, and fearful that their company sucks (yeah – I’ll keep using that word).  Sure, the company has a duty to protray reality to the employees – they can deal with it.  But a company at the same time has the duty to make sure that the employees also feel some value instead of a culture of mass depression.

There has got to be something we can do about this…

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2 responses to “Engagement Overkill?”

  1. Terrence Seamon Avatar

    It is very sad indeed. What the spouse and children must be going through is unimaginable.
    But I would not call it “engagement overkill.” This isn’t engagement. This is despair.

  2. Sean Rehder Avatar
    Sean Rehder

    Oddly, I’ve known 6 people in my lifetime…so far….that have committed suicide.

    I agree with Terry…its about despair…personal despair.