Olivier Tirmarche

Reducing Suffering in the Workplace With New Forms of Management Publication date : April 1, 2010

During the past few years, stress in the workplace has been much in the news in France — particularly since it was reported to be the main cause of suicide in several large corporations. Yet as the recent wave of suicides demonstrated, communications have not improved between management and union representatives. While the latter argue that working conditions must be completely overhauled, the former point to the constraints imposed by the economy.

The ensuing tensions lead the author to ask: Is it possible to modify working conditions, in order to reduce stress in a context of dual pressure from clients and shareholders? Does the logic of economics leave no room for manoeuvre? Have we become its prisoners? And what can we do?

Following the spate of reports and documents dealing with “social distress”, here is the book we need to read to understand, most notably, how and why change has come to be seen as a destabilising threat. One question must be borne in mind: Are we sure that competition really does encourage stress factors?

• Based on studies of different types of enterprises and administrations here is a detailed examination of the factors and symptoms of work-related stress.

• Stress is not a fatality brought on uniquely by pressure and competition. It is possible to transform work organisation so as to reduce the causes of stress. Based on his extensive consulting experience, Olivier Tirmarche proposes a number of global solutions.

• Following the highly critical works by writers such as Christophe Dejours as well as a number of sensational news reports and television documentaries, this book urges us to set aside emotional responses and denunciations and to take effective action. A fresh and much-needed examination of distress in the workplace.

Olivier Tirmarche is a consultant in psychosocial risk prevention. He teaches at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (IEP), the University of Paris-X-Nanterre and Celsa (communications and journalism school). A graduate of IEP, he has a doctorate in sociology.