Whale Being

Unless you are self-employed, you are likely part of a 21st century workforce and will almost certainly been struck by the wave of organisational well-being initiatives.

Bosses are frantically setting up helplines, arranging gym discounts, and handing out snack-sized, sample nutty bars among the seemingly more level-headed of interventions. I’ve also witnessed aromatherapists, magicians, and even jugglers showcasing their dubious talents to captive audiences under pain of contractual obligation.

Wholly predictably, the bloated whales at the helm of these enterprises accompany these feelgood flurries by routinely banging out missives that implore their people to take good care of themselves.

Always framed primarily as altruistic, these celebrations of care do allow their authors a subtle nod to the benefits of productivity and competitiveness garnered from a healthy happy band of workers. Otherwise, it is all about their most valuable asset. That’s right: hard cash. They just frame it so that it appears to be about their peeps.

The vegan, fat-shaming elephant in the room does nevertheless fail to take the edge of their otherwise manifest bastardry. Under-resourced, understaffed, and poorly trained workforces continually bullied under the threat of dismissal are arguably more threatened by ill-health than they are supported by ephemeral window-dressing that initially serves the marketing inventory for external consumption.

The emphasis on well-being is the grift that keeps on grifting, and it furthermore shrouds a more sinister internal manoeuvre. Unscrupulous employers are crafting environments where the responsibility for personal welfare feels like it is now more an employee than an employer issue.

And that is the most dangerous shift for any worker.

By thrusting their enthusiasm for employee welfare centre stage, and smothering it with vacuous froth and bubble, business big cheeses can sculpt a selfless, blameless utopia. When stuff goes wrong from here, staff who are conditioned to look inwards will do so when seeking to apportion blame.

It is a hall pass for exploitative villainy.

Assisted by the absence of visual cues in remote working, employees may not yet have tumbled that a new post-COVID austerity awaits their future endeavours. They will need to be wished the best of luck with those, which will ironically be what many of the expendables will read on their leaving cards after they have been unceremoniously bombed out.

Staff numbers have been slashed and investment has been stymied. It is going to get immeasurably tougher on a diet of unromantic gaslit meals of yoga and intensive stress. And they’ll only have yourselves to blame.

Well, that is how the whales will railroad them.

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