Work / Employment

labor, unemployment,...

オリンピックとTPP。希望を歴史の中に見つける

フランス人の友人が「さちえ、オリンピックの招致おめでとう」と言ったのがきっかけで、欧州の仲間はブラック・ユーモアで日本の放射能問題を延々と笑いとばした。

日本は大地震、津波、台風、竜巻、豪雨、豪雪と災害が多いけど、一番の災害はあの人だ。もはや安倍首相の嘘は、世界中に知れ渡ることとなった。「ああいう友達がいるだけで、もう敵は他にいらない。(バカな友達を持つと、自分に大きな災いをもたらすという意味)」ヨーロッパ地方の言い伝えがある。

ヨーロッパのブラック・ユーモアは、イジメではなく徹底的に苦いニガイ風刺で、日本も欧州の問題も自らの死でさえも、トコトン笑い飛ばし辛らつに批判する。(笑い飛ばすからと言って、彼らが死を怖れないのではない)。でもあそこまでブラックに笑い飛ばすと、ともかく「後は、元気に一日一日を生きていこう」という気になるから不思議だ。

。。。下につづく

Innovation and Luxembourg, Suffering a Brain Drain!?

Ten years ago, when I started going to the Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg (BNL - the National Library of Luxembourg), the “poverty” of the library (e.g., infrastructure, resources, services, etc.) of the world's richest (if not mistaken) country shocked me. The BNL was so underdeveloped, when compared to many public and private libraries in the USA. More surprisingly, many libraries I had visited in Brussels, Paris, and other cities were not so nice, either.

(Just note that some BNL librarians appear to be cold and distant at first. But, when they get to know you, they can be friendly, very helpful, and even sweet.)

Over the last ten years, the BNL has improved dramatically, and has become one of the best/favorite libraries I know in the region so far. Although I still miss some aspects of American libraries – for example, specialized librarians (e.g., law librarians) and more conducive, competitive, extremely intense, and intellectually stimulating atmospheres for studying, I am OK with the BNL. Hope that it keeps improving in coming years.

However, talent management in Luxembourg concerns me/us greatly.

It is obvious that Luxembourg has an advantage in attracting people because of competitive salaries, benefits, etc. But, it may not be so good at retaining their top talents in some sectors (though, of course, there are really talented people in Luxembourg, but some of friends have been disenchanted. They have moved to other companies and countries with better opportunities).

There seems to be something dysfunctional: something does not ignite, but undermine the passion of people.

Appraisal, Performance Review, Bonus and Rewards

November and December are appraisal months, and I was not surprise to receive an email from our Director of Studies about my face-to-face, one-to-one, formal appraisal tomorrow afternoon. Yesterday, an acquaintance complained how his manager waited for the yearly appraisal to tell him that he can only take smoking breaks twice a day instead of thrice. The day before, I was invited to lunch by a friend who spent an hour talking about her disappointment in getting a C in her appraisal. Hoping for a B, she was even more disenchanted when her manager said, “80% of the staff got C”. She thought her boss considered her as a valuable employee belonging to 10% of the efficient and loyal personnel.

As the day turned to night, I heard more appraisal-related stories. For instance, one of my trainees reported his manager saying, “It’s going to be the same for everybody — no promise of a bonus and no negative feedback”.

Most employers use appraisal (annually, semi-annually or quarterly) to assess performance, give employees the opportunity to discuss work-related issues in confidence and motivate them to link their performance to their organisation’s objectives and goals. Some companies use appraisal outcomes to reward financially or promote employees. Some employees use the positive results when applying for a job or promotion.

Appraisal is not only about previous achievements but defining new objectives in the coming year, especially with changes in economic situation, staffing level, market forces, etc. People I have spoken to are either optimistic or cynical about appraisals. Generally, an employee on a trial period, contractual arrangement or in an insecure position takes the appraisal seriously as it is a formal process with documented results that can be used to rehire or fire. However, those who have been in their job for a long time may find it “more of the same” or a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

Pleasure and not pressure at work

A paid employment is necessary – it’s an indispensable work as it provides an individual with an income, self identity and social status. Due to some societal changes and the financial crises, the pleasure of being in a paid employment has been replaced with pressure, stress and race for survival. The original idea connected with the Protestant work ethic of independence and saving has disappeared, and what’s left is hard work and competition. Most of us are busy earning money hence we have no or little time for leisure.

Unlike workaholics, we rely on periodic leisure (which is associated with holiday as the British call it; “vacation” American) to spice our employment. I rarely hear of employees raving about having the pleasure of working. It’s not only money that makes our work environment pleasurable. It may not be possible to get pleasure from all our daily tasks, however, we can see the glass half full in times of pressure when we have a good sense of humour and take time to relax. There’s also pleasure, instead of pressure, when we have a shared interest (e.g. sports, entertainment, arts) with our colleagues, update our work station (e.g. new photos on our desk and fosters on the wall), vary our office snacks and meals, dress up differently and change our lunch activities from time to time (e.g. picnic in the nearby park or trip to the swimming pool and a quick sandwich).

As I mentioned in my previous article, I didn’t have internet access for 10 days by choice. I leisurely explored the mountains and lakes in Scotland and played a typical tourist in England. The 12-day holiday with my family was fantastic though I really didn’t need it as a break from my paid employment. A staycation would have been leisurely productive and pleasurably relaxing. This is because I enjoy what I do for a living. We can only have fun with our job when we are passionate about it. Can we instil passion in our work? How can we handle pressure and obtain pleasure when we aren’t passionate about our employment?

Journey to the World of Public Service Employment

The Government is the biggest employer and this book provides insight into how it makes employment decisions. This is informative for job seekers, the under-employed, the over-employed and anyone who has a mission or vision of helping others get employed. It also challenges current thinking about and practices in recruitment and selection.

Fair trade movement and no-stinky merino-wool T-shirts

Last weekend my partner and I went to A.S. Adventure in Luxembourg to buy some items on sale. I like that store where we can find nice outdoor products and I also enjoy meeting our sales-guy. Despite his wild punk appearance, he speaks gently and can always give us some excellent advice (in different languages, depending on the customer). He is a real pro! You know, business is about attractiveness and his main attraction is his competence. Last time he gave us a free lecture for about 30 minutes on merino wool shirts made by Icebreaker. He said he adores New Zealand, nature, and merino sheep. Although we did not receive any funding from Icebreaker for this blog, I am “keen to share it with you” (as they put it.)

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