1. What is your reaction to the situation described in this case? What factors, both inside the...


1. What is your reaction to the situation described in this case? What factors, both inside the company and externally, appear to have contributed to this situation?
2. What appeared to be happening in the France Télécom’s workplace? What stress symptoms might have alerted managers to a problem?
3. Should managers be free to make decisions that are in the best interests of the company without worrying about employee reactions? Discuss. What are the implications for managing change?
4. What are France Télécom’s executives doing to address the situation? Do you think it’s enough? Are there other actions they might take? If so, describe those actions. If not, why not?
5. What could other companies and managers learn from this situation?

We know that too much stress can be bad for our health and well-being. That connection became even more painfully and tragically obvious at France Télécom.71 Since early 2008, more than 40 people who worked for the company committed suicide. The situation captured the attention of the worldwide media, the public, and the French government because many of the suicides and more than a dozen failed suicide attempts have been attributed to work-related problems. Although France has a higher suicide rate than any other large Western country, this scenario is particularly troublesome. So much so, that the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation of the company over accusations of psychological harassment. The judicial inquiry stems from a complaint by the union Solidares Unitaires Démocratiques against France Télécom’s former chief executive and two members of his top management team. The complaint accused management of conducting a “pathogenic restructuring.” Excerpts of the inspector’s report, although it’s not public, have been published in the French media. It describes a situation in which the company used various forms of psychological pressure in an effort to eliminate 22,000 jobs from 2006 to 2008. Company doctors alerted management about the possible psychological dangers of the stress that could accompany such drastic change. “The spate of suicides has highlighted a quirk at the heart of French society: Even with robust labor protection, workers see themselves as profoundly insecure in the face of globalization, with many complaining about being pushed beyond their limits.” A company lawyer denied that France Télécom had systematically pressured employees to leave.

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ISBN: 978-0132163842

11th Edition

Authors: Stephen P Robbins, Mary Coulter

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