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Rafael Andreu and Josep M. Rosanas, Professors, IESE, University of Navarra

Seeking work

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 08:32:34 +0000 Published in La Vanguardia (Barcelona)

It seems a normal thing nowadays: there is unemployment, then there are many people looking for a work to replace the one they have lost. But today, yesterday and tomorrow, we find many others who are looking for work already having one because they are not satisfied with the one they have. The current high turnover, compared to the stability of employment in the past, is evidence of this.

There is a lot of underemployment, precarious employment , insufficient salaries and dissatisfaction with the employment you have that makes you look for something better almost permanently. What you find is better than what you left, but it is not wonderful. And we keep looking...

This primarily affects young people, who have not yet developed a serious professional degree program and who, by this method, it is difficult for them to develop it. There is a considerable obstacle degree program to overcome first the barrier of one thousand euros, and then that of three thousand. And it is socially very inefficient, because all the efforts that are dedicated to the search could be dedicated to something productive if it were not necessary to search more.

The culture of efficiency installed in the business world is at the origin of all this. It is the one that demands concrete and tangible results in the short term deadline. Only. Shareholder value, to be more specific. No more. No other objectives. To this end, management "accepts no excuses", and tightens the screws on schedules, results and salaries to see if these results are achieved. Often they end up being achieved, but at the cost of making the future more difficult. It seems as if the business were a great idol to which people's happiness must be sacrificed. For people to be rich they have to be unhappy. And, according to many psychiatrists, this is what we are achieving: becoming richer and more unhappy. The culture of efficiency must be replaced by that of satisfaction, which achieves a minimum of results in the short term deadline, because otherwise companies cannot survive. But it seeks to satisfy all the needs of customers and employees, not just economic ones. When Jack Welch - the former CEO of General Electric who promoted shareholder value as the guide of decisions - acknowledged that this was a serious mistake, we should listen to him.