Going Postal

8 Jun

I watched a documentary about the infamous rash of shootings perpetrated by (postal) workers in the U.S. with the expectation of judging and criticizing the violent offenders.  While I watched the film, I was hit by another feeling–empathy.  For the violent offenders.

Even though I would not, under any circumstance, say what they did was justified or warrented, the movie made clear these were not just crazy individuals.  The stressors and managerial styles of employers pushed them over the edge.  The pressures of the job and abusive atmosphere at work helped them snap.

Why do (Former) Employees Shoot?

-70% of all Americans are unhappy in their jobs.

-feel powerless

-work more and more hours

-companies squeeze more out of employees

-emphasis is placed on profits–not people

-more pressure to perform leads to higher stress loads.

 -treating workers like machinary dehumanizes–>easier to be cruel

-competition with co-workers for (perceived) limited benefits/raises/hr/pay

-alienation at work due to competition or under-performance

-increasing frustration

-employees feel resentful

-tied to work for the income

-manager nit-picking of employees

-feeling of helplessness

-feeling of already having failed

-fear of getting terminated

-employee feels wronged

-have to be subjected to same conditions day in and day out (1/3 life is spent at work)

-identity and self worth are tied up in job

-(threat of) getting fired takes away not only income, but self-worth, identity, and social network.

-media attention on other shooting/attacks inspires the desperate

-perceive self as hero to others in same situation

-revenge/avenge

-kill many innocent people to symbolize larger organization (which can’t be killed).

And the ultimate solutions:

-Co-workers need to report, report, report.  It’s better to investigate a “feeling” than leave it alone and face tragedy.  Awareness of signs and signals–and telling those concerns to the right people can prevent many such incidents.

-Having a plan.  Practicing that plan.  All places of employment need to go over an emergency plan in case of shootings.  Or fires, bombs, terrorist attacks, etc. . .

-The media needs to be careful about sensationalizing shooting events, which can influence other unstable people to commit crimes.

-As always, America needs to put more emphasis on mental health care.  Screening, funding, and supporting it is imperative.

-Businesses need to evaluate their company ethos, goals, and managers to make sure the environment is need a hostile pressure-cooker.

-Impossibly, the U.S. needs to put less emphasis on capitalism, production, and money and more on work relations, vacations, and human rights.  This is a tall order.

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