Businesses have “gone too far” in telling people how to live their lives, according to Attorney-General Christian Porter. His comments were sparked by the debate about religious freedom; but the problem of paternalistic employers goes much deeper.
Needlessly proscriptive lists of dos and don’ts for staff to bow to — sometimes extending to outside the workplace —don’t just encroach on employees’ freedom. They are infantilising.
For example, Qantas states employees must: “treat Qantas Employees, Qantas Group customers and suppliers, and other people with trust, dignity, respect, fairness and equity.”
Statements like this are justified by a desire to create a better ‘workplace culture’, and that in itself is not a bad thing. But that finger-wagging line about fairness and respect would not be out of place in a children’s book.
Human Resource departments have adopted the role of parent. They clearly fear employees will descend into Lord of the Flies chaos if they aren’t provided a list of rules.
This is how we treat children. Kids need to be told how to behave, because in their early years they don’t know any better.
But the infantilising trend is unsurprising, as schools and universities have been babying students for decades.
American psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues in his bestselling book Coddling of the American Mind that since the 1980s, there has been a drive to eradicate anything potentially harmful or unsafe.
At schools this meant removing dangerous structures from playgrounds and in universities ‘safe spaces’ were created to protect students from uncomfortable words or ideas.
This trend has now followed through into the workplace. HR departments think a strict set of rules will prevent any bad behaviour or harm.
We have a generation of workers who have grown up believing an ‘adult’ should always be there to tell them what to do — and a generation of HR managers who are more than happy to babysit.
14 November 2019 | The Australian
Anti-Semitism, the ancient hatred of Jews, is on the rise in Australia. Anti-Semitic incidents occur more frequently in schools and offices, and on our streets. On one Monday…
11 October 2019 | Ideas@TheCentre
ABC Chairwoman Ita Buttrose laments that the Australian media landscape is “too white” and not representative of our multicultural society. She even suggests we may need quotas. Quotas…
News that the eco-socialist network, Market Forces, intends to step up its campaign to choke investment in fossil fuel industries came as no surprise to those who have…