On Management: That humdrum life

Working for large corporations does not make us happy and has led to disengagement and a loss of motivation.

by Corinne Maier, World Business

Happiness at work. How to motivate your team. Managing a team while getting the best out of everyone ... just a few examples of the myriad phrases attempting to ward off the prevailing uneasiness within large corporations.

Are they the right place to find self-fulfilment; do they provide the potential for exhilarating challenges? Or has the growing pressure for short-term efficiency measured by highly restrictive quantitative assessments put an end to dreams of personal autonomy? It seems that large corporations, squeezed between the evils of bureaucracy and the demon of profitability, may have much to worry about.

HR managers dread employee disengagement, health and safety professionals are concerned and managers on pep-talk alert. White-collar workers, office workers and middle-ranking executives are all full of misgivings. In Europe, the Italians and French are the least motivated at work; according to a 2003 IFOP poll, 17% of French executives say they are "actively disengaged" from their work and only 3% consider themselves "actively committed" to their work, an unbelievably low figure. Even the Americans, traditionally more optimistic, seem to be increasingly disillusioned. In a survey carried out by TNS, published in 2005 by the Conference Board, just half declared themselves satisfied with their jobs in 2005 compared with 60% in 1995, and a quarter said they worked just for the money.

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