Infotech Do we have to be “fun” at the office?

Do we have to be “fun” at the office?

Funny little fleeing animal that the “fun”. One says that it is a key element in the good health of a work group and its productivity. But try to summon it artificially (which amounts to writing “now everyone is having fun” on a shared agenda), and he will take to his heels.

Having fun at work, even being happy there. The most skeptical are wary of this injunction, in which they see only one of the new faces of managerial alienation. Here you are caught in a deleterious work organization, in which everything is done so that everyone only rolls for his apple. And in the midst of all this, you are no longer only asked to arrive at work with skills and know-how, but also to put your being and your (positive) emotions on the table, and to make caipirinhas without alcohol in the relaxation area with a panda mask. (A Parisian executive spoke to me a few weeks ago about the establishment in his company of a “morale weather” : every morning, he is invited to inform, on an application, his state of mind of the moment with an emoji. Foggy time on my mind discovering this madness.)

The sequel after the ad

Bibliobs – Eva Illouz: “the ideology of happiness is the strong arm of capitalism”

All this would be very harmless if this demand for emotional investment did not have a cost for the workers. Because then, “unhappiness is no longer just unhappiness, but the failure of happiness, that is to say the failure of the employee”, wrote the Swiss ergonomist Viviane Gonik, specialist in occupational health issues, in the collective work “Les Servitudes du bien-être au travail” (Erès, 2021). In such a system, the back-to-school cake is no longer just a cake, but the Trojan horse of a new moral order.

Back to meaning

Is it still possible to refuse to give in to this injunction? To work properly, pull the face and go home? Yes, when the fun goes too far, according to the Court of Cassation: this fall, it considered that refusing to adhere to the values “fun & pro” of a company (in this case, a Parisian consulting firm) was not a valid reason for dismissal. This fun resulted, according to the court, in a “necessary participation in seminars and weekend drinks frequently generating excessive alcoholism […], and by practices advocated by the associates linking promiscuity, bullying and incitement to various excesses and excesses”.

And for those who would still like to have a good time? For the economists Thomas Coutrot and Coralie Perez, the notion of ” happiness “ at work has, in fact, little to do with fun, but rather with “meaning”. They told us:

“When you do what you consider to be ‘shitty work’ with no social utility and which damages nature or poisons consumers, even if the colleagues are nice, it doesn’t allow you to be happy at work. »

We also note that the search for happiness or self-fulfillment through work is no longer very successful, according to a recent note from the Jean-Jaurès Foundation on the way the French see their work. Instead, a humble aspiration to “well-being” is gaining ground. And second comes the search for meaning. As if the content of the work prevailed again over the container.

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