Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Workplace stress, and the need for inverted commas

A quick one on the news today that Hector Sants, ex-Chief Executive of the PRA, has been signed off with exhaustion and stress 8 months after taking on the role of Chief Compliance Officer at Barclays Bank.

There is no question that the role he has taken on is a beast - along with the conventional mis-selling/malpractice stories unwinding in UK banks (PPI, Personal loans, Interest Rate Swaps, LIBOR), they are also getting the third degree over their curious ability to have avoided a bail-out back in 2007/08, when all around them failed. As far as control functions go, it is as big a job as UKplc has to offer.

The top boy over at Lloyds had experienced something similar last year (emerging as insomnia in his case), and has thankfully got his mojo back, having recognised that one can't do everything when you're driving a bus of that size. Some of the media still fancied a nibble at this, from Peston's glib headline, a full piece following the announcement on "failing the stress test", though neither plumbing the red-top depths of capitalising the word "stress" as if the very concept bent the laws of credulity.

Perhaps the unsavoury element tonight is that this kind of reporting still seems kosher (for example, some outlets seem to need to use quotation marks around "exhaustion and stress", while others don't). I have no experience with stress in the workplace, and don't propose to start campaigning on the matter - when a man is ill though, it's pretty poor form to bleat about journalist-inspired "controversy" around his pay package or knighthood. Get well soon yessir...


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