What kind of man is it who, suffering from headaches, stomach pains, or a bad night - the lot it appears of a majority of British managers - goes to work where he is more than likely overburdened, and returns home (taking work with him), where he has a problem in finding time to spend with his partner, and yet is happy with his lot?
The answer, it seems, is the British manager. He appears to be, as Peter Wilsher observes, reflecting on our survey (p 34), 'a perverse and curious beast'. Certainly he (and, perhaps too rarely, she) is a beast of burden, overworked, consumed by office politics, lacking confidence in his superiors, apparently isolated due to inadequate communications, who has for the past few years been going through the industrial and business equivalent of the Somme with no bright dawns ahead in terms of career security. Yet less than one-third of managers ever think of looking for another job or even changing career completely.
One looks at such benighted individuals inevitably with sympathy but also with hope. These Bunyanesque pilgims surely prove that the bulldog spirit is by no means a myth - at least in this area of our national activity. And, if he or she can keep shoulder to wheel and nose to grindstone in such trying times, what reward might such resolution bring in a brighter economic clime?
One feels that the findings of our survey compel some comfort to be offered, urgently, to that 7% who are so beset that they cannot even be sure whether they dread going to work or not. Well, there is hope about, not merely in the beckoning lights of recovery but also in the treatment the job-dispossessed are receiving.
Some of it comes through outplacement consultancies which have been enjoying the silver lining that is traditionally held to be concomitant with clouds. Research done by Cranfield indicates that three-quarters of all large companies now offer the blow-softening services of such consultancies as part of their severance packages.
One such consultancy, Sanders and Sidney, has gone on record with the encouraging claim that the average sackee is currently getting 11 months' compensation pay and finds work within five months, with a 50% chance that the new post will carry a larger salary than before. Similar, though not so rosy findings, come from Peter Trigg, the UK managing director of Drake Beam Morin (DBM), probably the market leader in this field.
His figures show 25% being able to command increased remuneration when they find a job (though he estimates they wait rather longer to find it) and a further 42.5% able to maintain their previous income level.
These are, of course, straws in the wind to managerial labourers in an ungiving cornfield who, oddly, do not admit, in the face of the evidence all about them, that they are indeed threatened. We proffer these findings because despite what our article calls their 'insouciance' in the face of widespread redundancy, we suspect that, in their hearts, they are no less worried than anyone else.
A further stiffener to confidence comes from reports that outplacers themselves are not doing as well as of yore.
Lastly, there is the possibility, some even say a probability, that the disgorging of managerial talent has gone too far; that the pendulum may be on the point of swinging back; that the re-engineering and de-layering may not prove to be quite the surgical miracle that aficionados assume. Whether or not these things will come about, one thing is clear: the British manager will soldier on. His stamina is proven beyond peradventure.