A “marketplace” for worker dignity: Why bad employers and managers should be shown the door

Diehard devotees of free market economics are fond of characterizing virtually every human endeavor as a transaction. While understanding economic principles is a necessary staple of modern life, I believe that such extreme thinking drains us of our humanity.

But okay, I’ll play

Nevertheless, let’s play along for a few minutes and frame the experience of work in market terms:

First, let’s characterize each act of workplace bullying, discrimination, and harassment as a transaction. Second, let’s further suppose that every legitimate complaint or lawsuit in response to worker abuse is an attempt to recover rent or payment for engaging in that abusive transaction, i.e., the “price tag” for taking someone’s dignity at work. That price tag may reflect lost wages, severe stress, emotional distress, and interference with one’s ability to work.

Shouldn’t it follow that employers and managers who continually treat their workers poorly and pay out damages in litigation are among the marketplace’s failures in terms of employment practices? Furthermore, isn’t it logical for us to replace them with better performers?

How about “creative destruction” of bad employers?

In the cold hard world of economic markets, little thought is devoted to the human costs of business creation or dissolution and employee hiring, treatment, and termination. It’s all part of the process of “creative destruction” so enthusiastically embraced by those who see the world as one big marketplace.

Well, maybe it’s time for a new — or at least complementary — bottom line. Maybe it’s time to show the door to bad employers and managers on grounds that they are failures in the marketplace of human dignity. Now that’s the kind of creative destruction that will lead to healthier workplaces.


This post is offered in conjunction with Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week.

2 responses

  1. Couldn’t agree more.

    I’d welcome more posts on the limitation of transactionalism in our models of business life.

    You are playing your part.

    I’m re-thinking work on trust-based leadership which as been an interest of mine for quite a while.

  2. Interesting concept of “creative destruction”. I like the direction you are taking this, that is why I believe a good prevention plan in the workplace is crucial. That way managers and employee’s know where there stand and how to handle themselves in a workplace environment.

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