Some people are very vocal in declaring that we here in Sweden have created a safe society were we try our very hardest to avoid the un-avoidable…death. And every step on the way to it.
An outcome of all our attempts to achieve a safe society is that we in fact often get the very opposite results to those we intended.
Being an adult is fun but tough and it hurts both physically and emotionally. Still, we hide this fact from our kids. And since we forbid our kids to, say, ride a bike without a helmet, cross the road without parents, hold a knife, walk through the park, talk to strangers, watch TV for more than 30 minutes etc, we also trick them into constantly feeling safe. We lull them into the belief that nothing hurts, and that nothing is tough or bad out there. Is this really good for them?
The same people are saying that, as a result, we are now in danger of having an entire generation to never become adults. Today these youngsters are coming to the psychiatric emergency wards for stress symptoms way before they even start to work. Why is that? How can you be that stressed when you are young and without real responsibilities? How come this never happened before? For instance – the medical term of being “stressed out” is that you have to work for many years (think it was 10) every day and long hours and with no rest whatsoever. And as said – we still get youngsters claiming they are stressed out before they have even worked one single day in their life.
The reason is simple; we have not prepared them for real life. For life as adults. We over-protect them on their way to becoming adults and once they begin to realize that it’s a tough world we all live in, and that it does hurt a lot…they simply cannot cope with the mental pressure.
So, what has all of this to do with today’s topic? Well, we all read the stories in the news about the current global financial situation, with many companies needing to cut back. In Sweden, now is the time to take market share – especially since some of our laws will make things even more difficult than they already are for these struggling companies.
And there is one law that is a great example of the many stupid rules that attempt to protect us, but actually result in the opposite. In my mind at least, this is very much related to the above.
You decide: In Sweden if a company is experiencing a shortage of work and needs to reduce its size, we have a law that protects the staff with seniority over qualification/skill/expertise. SENIORITY OVER EXPERTISE. Yes, you heard it right. Good for the senior people at least you might think. But I say it´s a very unfortunate law for everyone. Including the very same senior people the law tries to protect. Here is how I see it in a very simplified and shortened version: When companies are being forced to get rid of the young, vibrant, hungry and often more skilled people (and ones that you just hand picked with great care) as opposed to the ones that have been at the company the longest, you take away the edge of your company. And if you are a high performance service organization – you take away the edge of the very product you are selling, as well as getting rid of the part you have most recently invested in building up. By doing so, you obviously lose quality and alongside losing quality, it is inevitable that you will lose revenue and eventually the all-important clients. Once you begin to lose clients, you are in a very unfortunate downward spiral… And so it begins again. You have to fire some more people, starting again with the people last in…
This means that even the senior staff that initially thought they were safe will eventually have to go. And with them, potentially the entire company!
The worst part of this is that the ‘market value’ of the senior people is often lower than that of the less experienced. This is due to the fact that Sweden has made them slower, less hungry, less competitive, more comfortable and safe. And in business that is never a good thing. In business we always have to outperform the others, we always have to outsmart our competitors and even our colleagues, we have to run, be proactive and not reactive, break barriers, coming up with the smartest solutions… I think you get my point by now.
I will not run my life or my company based on safety alone. Just being safe is boring, by being safe you will never expand, safety alone will not take you anywhere, being safe will not break any barriers, safe ideas are rarely the winning ideas, safe is not a feeling that will drive a company. Or an industry. And definitely not a society.
As said above, now IS the time to take market shares. The best talents are now available, the clients are looking for stable organizations and the downward spiral has started for those in trouble.
Life is fun and tough. Not safe.
Claës af Buren