France Telecom blames suicides on SmartPhones
Whilst living in France is the dream for many francophiles, for some it is not without its pressures. Now the Chief Financial Officer of France Telecom, Gervais Pellissier, has warned that the barrage of emails from smart phones and personal computers is stressing out employees.
France Telecom is dealing with a number of recent suicides amongst its employees. Whilst Mr. Pellisier did not directly blame the suicides on 24 hour email he says that workers in all big companies are under more pressure in the age of the BlackBerry.
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Mr. Pellissier attributed some worker unhappiness to the recent privatization and restructuring of the company, which dramatically shifted the job responsibilities of over 15,000 of France Telecom’s 102,000 employees. He added that this was compounded by new technologies, which causes work to encroach increasingly on personal lives.
Mr, Pellisier said “Today for people working in business, whatever the level, whether they are CEO or even first- or second-rank level employees, they are always connected.”
France Telecom, which operates under the Orange brand, has come under public scrutiny after 22 workers committed suicide and another 13 attempted to kill themselves since the start of 2008.
“When you were an average employee in a big corporation 15 years ago, you had no mobile phone or no PC at home. When you were back home, work was out,” he added.
BlackBerry has been dubbed CrackBerry in the United States, where some users say they are addicted to checking emails on their BlackBerry’s, Sidekicks and other text capable smart phones.
Pellissier said such practices may be taking a bigger toll on workers than has been previously recognized by his company or others.
As a result a fragile employee with difficulties could possibly have more confusion, with a greater mixture between personal life and professional life than in the past.
To combat further attempts, France Telecom plans to implement counseling services. Since one employee stabbed himself in the stomach during an office meeting and a woman jumped from an office window, they will add increased surveillance.
He did not say how the balance could be addressed but noted that his company was taking the suicides very seriously.