Friday, 30 October 2009

The cost of poor HR: €1 billion and 25 lives

Regular readers of HR Case Studies will be familiar with the shocking series of suicides at France Télécom which have taken place while the Company has been implementing a modernisation drive.

Since February 2008, there have been 25 suicides and a further series of attempted suicides.

The cost of a badly managed restructuring programme now stands at a 6.4 per cent drop in third quarter profits, 25 lives and (announced yesterday) a €1 billion stress-reduction programme intended to enable staff aged over 57 to work part time. The part-time jobs would be made available on a voluntary basis to employees who felt that full time work was endangering their health.

Company Chairman Didier Lombard is blamed by unions for disorientating staff through a massive change programme since the business was privatised in 2004. Unions blame performance targets, tough management and imposed workplace mobility measures for the series of suicides.

The former state monopoly has been forced into a wide-ranging review of working practices overseen by Stéphane Richard, a former French government adviser who took over as deputy chief executive this month.

Mr Richards has already admitted that the group has ''gone too far'' into its attempts to supervise staff through the introduction of ''control tools''.

Times Online: France Télécom to invest €1bn to prevent suicides
  • How could the engagement of a robust HR function have prevented this situation from developing?

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