Duck! and Gather

Cures for the Deadening Effect of Corporate Jobs

Posted on: November 21, 2011

My last post might have seemed like quite a downer. Basic point of it is an observation that, broadly speaking, corporate jobs seem to deaden us over time, reducing our natural capacity for curiosity, learning, growth, and transformation.

Assuming that this observation is sound, the obvious next question is: What can we employees of large corporations do about it?

The first thing we can do is work for a humanizing multi-national corporation. If this sounds like an oxymoron to you, check this out: I am aware of a least one huge multi-national corporation that provides a “sabbatical” program for “tenured” employees. That is, the longer a person is employed by the company, the longer the sabbatical the employee gets.

I’m told that some long-term employees of this company have taken six months to hike Tibet. Others have taken a year to set up a bio-dynamic organic farm. The examples of what people do with their extended breaks is as varied as our individual dreams.  The common thread is the re-humanization of the employee base.

Another thing this company does is to provide a first class day care for preschoolers, complete with play-based active learning. In addition, the corporate campus is essentially a state park complete with jogging trails and the like.

But I suspect that this particular large corporation is the exception, rather than the rule in corporate America. So then the question becomes: What can we do as employees to stay supple and flexible and youthful in our deadening jobs?

In post-modern America, our corporate lives are proxies for our vanished family life. Yesterday, I had lunch with two men of Middle Eastern extraction. At lunch, they described how still in that region, family is paramount in the lives of the people.

Those days are long past in America. Just as food corporations replaced our moms in the kitchen for our food, corporate life now stands in for what passes as family life. Our bosses are like mom and dad, co-workers like siblings, workers in other groups like cousins, and HR like our kindly grandmas and aunts.

In my view, this “corporate family” dynamic is partly what explains the “going postal” tragic phenomenon in corporate America. IMHO, there is much more to this story. But these troubled people seem to confuse corporate layoffs with family rejection.

Well, the bright side of corporate family life is that our workers truly can become some of our dearest and trusted friends. To you folk I say: go hike together,

Hiking is not just exercise, though exercise is a key component. It’s exercise in the sun. And it’s an activity that begs for company. There’s nothing like a 2-3 hour hike in the hills with close, trusting colleagues with whom to share our frustrations as well as our dreams.

Another idea: book an appointment with the ergonomic folks and have them retrofit your work space. Maybe get  a standing desk. Our bodies were never meant to hunch over a computer monitor for hours in a day.

A related recommendation is take the stairs. Walk to the furtherest corner to get your mid-morning coffee. Hold walking meetings in which the participants walk the corporate campus. In general, use the corporate campus to exercise your body gently, but constantly.

I guess the bottom line here is to realize that for all the benefits of evident security the corporate job provides, realize that, long-term, it is a deadening process. Once that is realized, the humanizing practices that can counter-act this effect become self-evident.

Final point: this post reminds me of cancer treatments like chemotherapy. These treatments are necessary, especially for cancers of a certain degree of progression. But although necessary, they are also quite harmful to the body. So people undergoing these treatments are best served by being aware of these “side effects”, and taking measures to ameliorate them.

The problem in American medicine is, however, that the downsides of treatments like this are typically underplayed.

Corporate jobs are what keep vast numbers of us safely in our homes, with functional healthcare, rather than on the street. As such, they are necessary in our culture.

But if these jobs have a natural deadening effect, then we are all better off to just say that out loud, and then take steps to ameliorate the worst of it.

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2 Responses to "Cures for the Deadening Effect of Corporate Jobs"

When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

Bless you!

Sure. I think I’ll kill all commenting for this blog that I don’t use anymore.

Comments are closed.

for the money has gone too far

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