“Highly resistant to stress”

Dear motherfuchers in charge of the recruitment,

Fuck you. Fuck you big time (unless some of you are still reasonable and sensitive human beings, in which case don’t take it personally. You lovely ducks!).

So I guess that, if you’re one of the smart asses who have the responsibility to write, publish or validate the content of job offers -HR directors, managers, CEOs, whoever you are- you also have to reflect the spirit of the company you work for. So what the hell is wrong with you??? How is it possible that, as a prerequisite, I very often read in job offers that applicants have to be resistant, or even highly resistant, to stress?

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If you’re looking for doctors, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, etc., then fine: when it’s a matter of life and death, it’s likely that resistance to stress shall be a requirement. But since when has it become a norm for, let’s say, an office position? Will your business collapse because your employees are not constantly working under pressure? Will you make less money if you don’t push them to the point of exhaustion? Do you feel like an omnipotent king when your subjects are mentally tortured?

C’mon! You may yourselves be dedicated to your job, and passionate, and career-centered. You may even be workaholics, I don’t give a damn. After all, when your private life sucks, you indeed need a substitute. Not my problem. But there’s a huge gap between expecting dedication from your employees and submitting them to a high level of stress while considering it a normal burden to put on them.

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The Responsibility Burden (Dragos Bruma)

Stress is the plague of our society. Literally. It’s everywhere and it eats you out physically and psychologically. It devours your thoughts, your brains, your guts, your sleep, your energy. It splatters the person you are, your loved ones, your health. Until you drown.

Burnout is not just for the weaks. Depression is not either. And what about heart-attacks, strokes, cancer? Is it all because the body or the mind of some unfortunate ones is weak? I don’t think so. I saw my uncle, a big funny guy, an architect over-busy with his work his whole life, ending up in a hospital because he had a seizure only 6 months after he retired. He survived but is severely mentally handicapped now. I saw a close friend of mine affected by painful digestive problems that doctors never managed to explain or cure because they were actually caused by stress at work. I have cousins who got breast cancer before they were even 40. I have colleagues who, one by one, go on sick leave because they just can’t manage anymore at work. And what about those who are constantly high on cigarette and caffeine, killing themselves slowly, because the workplace is so stressful that they can never find a good time to quit? What will happen to them in 20 years? Which one of them will get sick or die first?

How productive is that for a company to “invest” in staff who, because they’re constantly under pressure, end up making mistakes, getting a shorter attention span, having memory loss, and eventually collapsing? How do you feel when you lose employees because you expectoutperformance instead of just “performance from them? What the fuck does it say about your company?

Even though health issues could be pre-existing and would have happened anyway would these people’s lives be different, the stress they went through because of their jobs have certainly triggered or precipitated their conditions.

All of that for what? For the money, obviously. We all have to make a living. Maybe for *even more money* than what we actually need. For the potential or eventual promotions. Sometimes for the challenge itself, I guess. For the carrots wagged under the nose of donkeys in order to make them walk faster. But whatever the size of your business. Whatever how much you reward the most productive and committed employees, or underpay the less experienced ones. Whatever their level of expertise. Whatever their skills, their abilities, their education, their experience, their age, their background, their personality… By stating that their resistance to stress is a prerequisite for their jobs or the jobs they’re applying to, you spread the plague. You plant the seed of illness and death. You promote work as the only worthy purpose in life. You favour business over private life. You screw relationships and break families. You cause health issues. You put a time bomb in their hands!

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Surprisingly, I’ve never been a rebel of the system. Even though I generally speak my mouth when something upsets me, I usually don’t bite the hand that feeds me. I’m relatively at ease financially but I also need to pay my bills. Besides, I also experienced unemployment in the past and am well aware of the thin line that exists between “comfortable” and “critical”. I worked for small businesses, big corporations, administrations and even the education system. Depending on the jobs, I sometimes had to work in stressful environments, either because I had too much work and tight schedules, or because the company was short on staff, or was so profit-centered that the human factor was underestimated. I occasionally was also lured about my future prospects and worked crazy hard for nothing in return (after all, false promises are a well-known strategy to get profitable employees). However sometimes I got lucky and worked for good people, which still gives me faith that other management patterns are possible. Today I have a permanent contract but I need a career change for various reasons. Some are related to decisions that I made regarding my private life, others result from the stress I’m going through and the level of involvement that is expected from me at work.

And one thing’s for sure: I want a right balance between my personal and my professional life. I want my sleep and my energy back. I want to do things during the weekends other than just catch up on sleep because I’m exhausted after weekdays. I want to stop counting how much time I’ve left before the alarm clock rings in the morning or before I can go to bed at night. I want to be my true self, and smile, and be happy to go to work. I want a decent salary. I want to be busy but not overburdened. I want to be productive and do my job properly because I care about the result and the people I work for/with. I want to have something positive to say to my boyfriend when I come home in the evening. And most importantly, I want to be healthy and live long with my loved ones by my side. It may sound like a lot, but I feel it’s the basic needs and rights of any normal being!

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So fuck the system. Whatever my situation is, this post is not just about me: it’s about the bat crazy society we live in. It may take a while for me to find a job that fits my expertise, my personality and my expectations, but the outraging offers that require candidates to be (highly) resistant to stress deserve nothing more than contempt. Of course someone else will get the jobs I won’t apply to, they may even enjoy them and make a good load of money. But I already feel for them because I know they have a dark cloud above their heads, and that sooner or later the storm will break out and mess up with their lives.

And you, motherfuckers, when you publish job offers that just make no sense and set objectives that are humanely unattainable; when you support the fact that employees have to be resistant to a great deal of stress and pressure; when you do that… You are the accomplices of their fall. But keep in mind that you will become the accomplices of your own fall. I presume that in your company, the general consensus on putting employees under stress also applies to you, and that you also have to pretend you’re a superhero, don’t you?

So don’t worry, your time will come. Someday, you’ll pay the price too.

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