Jim Moodie en Corporate Services Associates - BPO Consulting, Directors and Executives, Business Consulting Principal Owner • Information Access & Design Inc 10/10/2016 · 2 min de lectura · 1,4K

The Great [Human] Depression

With World Mental Health Day there have been a string of articles on mental depression and its impact. Most of these articles focus on what can be done to “treat” depression, but ignore the underlying question of “why is depression on the rise?”

The Great [Human] DepressionIf you look back to the Great Financial Depression of the 1920s and 1930s (starting with the stock market crash in 1929), there are a number of factors that caused mental depression during those times:

  • Business went into survival mode and focused on the bottom line, damn the costs.
  • People were thrust out of work.
  • People lost their savings, retirement funds, homes.
  • People were marginalized and lost their positive self-image.
  • The media and governments were all spouting how great life was, just before the market crashed.

Now return and look around today:The Great [Human] Depression

businesses are focused solely of the bottom line and view employees as “expenses” or “human assets” that are the first and easiest item to cut.

  • People are thrown out of work on mass.
  • People watch as they use up their savings and retirement funds while unemployed and eventually even lose their homes.
  • People are ignored when they apply for a job, never knowing why and/or how they fall short in meeting the job requirements thanks to automated HR procedures.
  • Government and the media are again spouting how strong the markets are, how globalization has opened so many new doors.
In both the 1930s and the 21 century the mental depression stems from a minimization of the worth of a human being over the value of profits for the shareholders. This one action leaves people at a lost as to what they did wrong, what could they have done to keep their job, were the years they gave to the company really not worth anything?

Many companies will donate to worthy causes that help medical research, the homeless, or other feel good, media grabbing, tax break generating initiatives. While the donations are good, these same companies will terminate 100s if not 1000s of employees as a “cost cutting” exercise. These employees, these human beings, are now thrust into a turbulent mental storm and placed on a course directly for depression.

The Great [Human] DepressionThe Great [Human] Depression

Depression in youth and 50+ age groups are two of the largest groups; not surprisingly these two groups are also the groups facing the most difficult job searches. A person in their 20s coming into the job market after following all the advice and building a student debt of tens of thousands of dollars find that the job markets are only offering low paying jobs that will hardly allow them to live let alone pay off their debt. Try as they might, they are either ignored (HR automation) or told time after time they aren’t a “good fit” and the constant negativity leads to… depression and desperation! A “right sized”, “redundant” or “out-dated” person in their 50s who is thrust into the job market after years of service to a company also finds themselves ignored (Hr automation again), “over-qualified” or lost as to how to meet the current job requirements without “current” academic credentials… again, the constant negativity leads to depression and desperation.

Business has a responsibility to their shareholders but first and foremost should have a responsibility to society if for no other reason than society consists of their clients!

  • Employees need to be kept current by constant training supplied by, funded by or supported by the employer.
  • Employees need to be the last item cut in order to meet the bottom line not the first.
  • C-level management needs to accept responsibility for failing to meet the profit targets by showing leadership and cutting or “right sizing” their own compensation packages before cutting employees.
  • Applicants need to be treated with respect and be given feedback on their job search to help them rather than being ignored.
  • Profit expectations need to be brought back in line with reality. Companies that insist on a 10%+ increase in profits year over year when interest rates are running at 2% are doing nothing more than gouging at the cost of human lives.

A business may not have a “soul” but the people running it and working within it all do. Let’s help fight the Great Human Depression by putting the well-being of humans first and profits second.

(Images from us-history.com, thetorontostar.com, canada.com and carltonjhr.com)

Harvey Lloyd 12/10/2016 · #9

#8 I have enjoyed our dialogue on this subject. I do agree that accountability is always difficult to watch exacted on anyone. The C-Suite is full of folks who signed on to be the leader. With this came rewards matching the responsibility they have been charged with. I see a large corporation as providing jobs, and security for lots of people. When the C-Suite bets these jobs for personal gain or to satisfy some financial need then they should be held accountable.

I hold myself accountable to my employees. They work hard to meet the needs of the business and i need to lead well. My responsibility is not just to my own financial success, but includes their success.

Justice with mercy is all that we have to hold folks accountable @Deb Helfrich. When CEO's decide to ignore bad habits because they are profitable or initiate bad policy then they are taking a risk. Hiding behind the corporate veil is not acceptable. The cycle of influence going on in Washington with Wall Street is a major issue. But this influence is being perpetrated by our congress, Presidents and the C-Suite executives. Not corporations and DC. I wish we had a way to hold folks accountable without destroying their lives. I would guess that many folks took bets on choices to advance their families. I compare this to those that take the house payment and bet it at the track. Our young people today are watching a society that allows us to hide from our values behind corporations, political parties and other non human entities. Its time we showed these young people that honor in action is a worthy goal by calling these folks from behind the shield.

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Deb 🐝 Helfrich 11/10/2016 · #8

#7 Ranting is useful when it comes to expressing emotion. Especially when it helps others to see things in a new way. I don't participate in the news, so I cannot add anything to what specifically happened in this case, but I do worry about how to apply accountability. Could it ever be possible to discover person-zero - the person who initially caught the virus or in this case began unethical business processes? Many good people undoubtedly had to decide to do objectionable things to keep roofs over their heads and food in their kids mouths. I could never, ever feel comfortable knowing exactly what I would do at any given moment in my life depending on the surrounding circumstances. Much of the edifice of Hollywood is built around giving humanity a chance to role-play through "Sophie's Choices"

I find judging after the fact to be something I can't participate it. What I can do is point out the fundamental flaw - the absence of a "do no harm" clause built into the foundation of incorporation. If you want a chance to reap untold fortunes you SHOULD be held to a standard of ethical conduct, insofar as humanity, nature, and our planet are sacrosanct and each action taken for profit should be evaluated for potential harm alongside, if not before a duty to shareholders. It is a simple check and balance that won't solve every situation but having it as an active criteria - not completely absent as it is now - will help shape our futures for the better.

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Harvey Lloyd 11/10/2016 · #7

#6 @Deb Helfrich I agree with your statements. But it's an apples oranges discussion. No corporation exists that humans do not run. C-Suite, Advisors, Investors are all humans. Each has their responsibility to be human and a good citizen. So my discussion was to point out that Corporation bashing serves no purpose. We are bashing an entity not the people who run the corporations. Real names real people who make decisions. We have a human problem not a corporation problem. Corporations and the media want us all to think that the FEIN number is a bad thing, get mad at it, write about it, but leave the people alone. Corporations are having huge regulation heaped on them that stifle growth, all because a human in the past made his or her money and stuck the employees with the regulations. Regulating corporations only hurts employees. Regulating bad acts of people keeps the government where it is suppose to be, within the judicial branch.

The corporation bashing is a shell game that lobbyists and government use to appear concerned about middle America while still collecting the money.

Someone at Wells Fargo needs to go to jail for the acts of invasion of privacy, falsified records and credit rating tampering. Each of the C-Suite individuals should be called before a judge and stripped of their perspective bonuses for the years that this fraud was perpetrated. Wells Fargo, Inc. didnt do this. The people running it did. Wells fargo is a stage coach with pretty ponies on it. How can i be mad at that? Sorry for the rant.

Deb 🐝 Helfrich 11/10/2016 · #6

Corporations are the gun and they are organizations that are expressly built to ensure that gun making occurs - hence an incredible conflict of interest. @Harvey Lloyd there is truth that media defines a corporation, but they are far more than tax and risk shelters. They are inorganic beings that direct people to keep them viable at all costs, even when decisions are patently anti-human and even directly against the welfare of people within the corporation and often very puzzlingly against their very customers. The owning of seed and the business practices of Monsanto in this area are catastrophic on many levels, and they are waging war against anyone speaking up as to the harm of their practices.

Corporate hegemony is an extremely false, unsustainable, and harmful game. Right now, they have to show profit increases every 90 days, quarter after quarter and this pressure - that could rather easily be removed - is causing a tension that will not abate until we realize that having fiduciary responsibility for an organization is not license to set aside moral and ethical responsibilities to real, live human beings.

Why should corporations not be built to allow that they might not always increase revenue in the short term - but that building a better product, or investing in a long term solutions, or keeping people employed might be better markers of truly viable, sustainable companies.

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Harvey Lloyd 11/10/2016 · #5

#4 I liked the gun reference and think it represents the symbiotic relationships we have with "corporations". I dislike the adjectives of "wall street" "main street" and others that group non entities into something we can like or dislike. These adjectives describe where our families work and grow their children. Real people with real ambitions. Corporations as we see them is defined by the media, when in reality they are tax and risk shelters. They are merely companies who produce something of value and hirer my children and grandchildren. Media has performed a good job at separating the employee from the employer in utilizing these methods. I remember the 60/70's there was a group of people that fell under adjectives that we could dislike the group but like the individual.

We are afraid to speak truth to our youth. Not to inhibit them but rather to guide. We are comfortable in allowing the world to educate our children. Our values and systems of family seem to be on the altar of success. You are correct, along the road to market we have encountered something that changes us from where we came from. I believe this to be our values. Values require that we consider others in our choices. But values also require a measure of faith. We have to believe that if we didn't get the raise, promotion or credit...that it will come. Or we can sacrifice the values to have it now.

Thanks for your follow up comments and, this dialogue needs to continue across many spectrums of media, @Jim Moodie.

Jim Moodie 11/10/2016 · #4

#3 Harvey I think a couple of things are at work.

First as you mentioned many of yesterday's employees are today's corporate leaders so we need to ask what in there past (personal and employment) taught them how to behave as they do? Where did they learn the "dog eat dog" lesson or is it they never were taught the price of that lesson?

Second is the media. Youth learns from experience and example, a quick look at the content changes over the past 20 years may hold some answers. Many of today's shows, movies and music focus on "getting the other guy" or "advancing at all costs". Decades ago the underdog would rise up to win by gaining friends through their actions, today they win be being sneakier than those around them.

Last, I think the messages we send out about "you can do anything you want if you try hard enough" adds to the problem by creating false expectations. There are limits to everything, a blind person couldn't be a field medic for example, but we don't teach people to accept the limits... we teach them to fight and push the limits. In many cases this leads to a full or partial failure to succeed at doing what they were taught they should. Many of these cases are what justify the job hoping since obviously the company is "holding them back".

So while not strictly the act of corporations, if society pulls the trigger... the corporations are the gun.

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Harvey Lloyd 11/10/2016 · #3

The world is getting depressed @Jim Moodie. I agree that "corporations" could become leaders in better understanding the society of customers that are also their employees. I find it odd though that when we look at our younger generations and how they are being advised to change jobs and find new and exciting experiences. I don't believe we got here strictly by acts of corporations, i believe employees have had some inputs. The chicken or the egg discussion may apply. One of the odd discussions that i would see as effective, the corporate leaders of today were the employees of yesterday, what happened?

Jim Moodie 10/10/2016 · #2

#1 Yes Deb, somewhere along the way the "human" side of business was pushed aside for the financial side... we need to return where our actions are driven by helping those around us, and ourselves by extension, grow and succeed rather than being driven by the "how much can I get out of it at any cost" mentality.

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