Exactly how does fear help the business?

Here are some reactions by MPs in Britain from the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties this week over a proposal to make it easier for firms to make staff redundant, by lessening statutory regulations.

Lorely Burt (Liberal Democrat): ‘A “fire at will” law could create a climate of fear.’
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat, Business Secretary): ‘It is the wrong approach … It is not the job of government to scare the wits out of people.’
Ed Miliband (Labour, leader of the Opposition): ‘Some people will be dismissed simply because their employer doesn’t like them.’

What are the roots of this deeply ingrained belief that fear is good for business – that, left to their own devices without legislative intervention, business leaders will naturally inculcate a climate of terror in their employees? How can that possibly help win orders and please the customers? Above all, how did this absurd belief come to be accepted on the left of politics (supposedly the representatives of workers)?

After many years of experience and research into the subject, Neela Bettridge and Philip Whiteley have developed some ideas on this subject. New Normal Radical Shift, to be published by Gower Publishing in early 2013, will set out in some detail the origins of the beliefs that have had such a toxic impact upon workplace climate and distorted our understanding of business.

Our conclusion is this: few ideas in modern history have caused more avoidable misery than the belief that exploiting workers maximizes profits. It is time to challenge and ultimately end this toxic idea, which never had a basis in evidence.

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