Pause for thought
While it was sympathetic to the challenges of the unemployed, this debate focused much more on the value of unemployment to society and to the individual as a pause for reflection. The most supported statements from the whole debate were:
- An opportunity to change direction should one wish to.
- It can be a fantastic moment to rethink your goals and priorities, to make (new) choices
- We were told twenty years ago about a leisure society yet we still work our socks off…
Compared to other Thinking Tanks, this debate was more reflective, less fast paced. In all however over 100 points of view were proposed by the group, evaluated and ranked.
There was clear acknowledgement of the downsides of unemployment for the individual, particularly in the absence of hope
- I grew up in a town with mass unemployment (closed steel mill) – the new norm became hanging around feeling hopeless
- Stress on families
And the detrimental impact on the economy / society:
- If the unemployment rate is too high, so then, there is a negative economic impact for society
- Waste of human resources – missing to include these people’s potential
Actions for business leaders
There was a belief that business leaders should be managing for growth and business success and this will in turn maintain employment requirements.
- There must be very valuable workers in my company, so that, we should redefine new markets. (there are always new opportunities to discover)
Two sides of the coin
On the issue of our role as employers / business leaders, there were clearly two schools of thought. Bipolar Synthetrons (where a statement attracts both significant support and significant opposition) on actions that we can take to address the issues raised by unemployment included:
- Maintain a relationship with ex employees eg as ad hoc team members while they are looking for next job
- I can help employees to grow personally while being on the job and by such creating resilience in the face of unemployment.
- Be aware of the research showing that the hard fast high cutting companies do very much worse after a crisis than the ones that keep some slack, fire in a humane way, let the employees keep in touch with each other, stimulate these contacts, …
- I can coach people better
This bipolarity was also the case concerning some of the advantages to society of unemployment – maybe reflecting personal experiences.
- I always learned that a certain degree of unemployment helps the economy to grow, change have a real labour market.. and I do believe that could be a benefit for society if we were all part time unemployed with time to do other important things. now a large group of people work more than 100% neglecting themselves, family and friends, while others do not have any work at all.
The word cloud (below) shows how the content of the debate went—the bigger the word, the more mentions and the higher the support. Most of the larger words are positive and focus on new beginnings. Of course many of the participants are successful in life—maybe due in part to this positive approach.