Love on the job?
Got problems in bed? Your best friend is bad at listening to your emotional problems, or your work colleagues use information about your sex life to undermine you? Well, help is at hand. Companies are offering new ways to help their staff find love and satisfaction in their personal lives.
Explaining why Pertemps Recruitment Partnership offered 700 permanent employees free introductions to the dating agency Elite Introductions, chairman Tim Watts said, 'Our motivation is that if we can find them someone, we can make them happier. We have found the divorcees can become enormously miserable'. This all sounds very well-meaning. But why would you want to let your boss organise not only how you work, but how you rest and play too?
It's not hard to work out that for companies, spending a few hundred pounds on putting a smile on the face of poor Ms Smith in computing or that sad Mr Taylor in accounts may well boost productivity. The message seems to be if your sex life is good, then your working life will seem infinitely more pleasurable. And so companies are happily buying in to new schemes which help 're-incentivise' their staff. Following a government-led initiative that encouraged employers to 'balance' their employees' work and play, companies are willing to concentrate on play at work if it works out financially. As a result, workers are offered such personal perks as granny crèches (Peugot car company), free makeovers (Price Waterhouse Cooper), poetry workshops (Marks and Spencers), music at work (Office Angels secretarial recruitment company), 'Make Yourself More Interesting' schemes (St Luke's advertising agency), dress-down Fridays (workers can wear casual clothes at the end of the week), free massages and summer parties.
The twenty-first century workplace is now relaxed, fun and educational if you believe the hype. But don't forget that long hours, poor pay and short-term contracts still take their toll on people's love lives. And forget about the demands of private and work life being balanced; now companies want to know how you organise your whole life, not just your professional time. At Cabal Communications, the publishing firm set up by Sally O'Sullivan (former editor of Harpers and Queen), staff are entitled to one 'mental health' day every three months. Goodbye to the days when employees just took a sickie, and hello to a new regime which describes staff - never mind the reason they take a day off work, of course - as mentally unwell. There's respect.
This year Eddy Ankrett, managing director of Elite Introductions, is keen to introduce a national 'It's Okay to Talk Day' for workers everywhere. It may seem healthy enough to open up, but is it really wise to tell all at work? Bosses are still bosses - and what starts off as the usual chit chat about problems in the sack could easily end up with you getting the sack.
Reproduced from LM issue 128, March 2000