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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE (article first published : 2004-09-1)

Stress in the Workplace – How To Cause It, by Howard Edwards was published in March this year.

Here at last is the motivational manual that we have all been awaiting. Working on the principle that a happy company is an unproductive one, the author provides a wealth of ways in which you can make the lives of your colleagues or employees unendurable. By so doing you can raise their stress levels to the maximum, and ensure that they work themselves to the point of complete breakdown, to your company’s great benefit.

The author offers a host of practical tips for making the workplace hideous. Send a salacious email from someone else’s computer to a vulnerable or dangerous colleague; smear hand-cream all over the computer screen of the cleanliness freak; greet a brilliant idea with “Ha ha ha, that’s a good one!” or spill a plastic cup full of water over the groin area of a colleague wearing an expensive and fashionable light-coloured suit. Whatever else happens, stress levels are sure to rise, and with them productivity.

The trick, according to the author, is to learn to unsettle the mind without causing permanent derangement. The procedure may be a bit time-consuming, but remember, as he reminds us, that Rome was not destroyed in a day.

I think this book is pretty funny, but I’m not quite sure. It shouldn’t be read at a session, or even for more than a few minutes at a time. Put it in the bathroom and take a small dose when you have something else on your mind. It’s possible that the guy is serious, and if he is the implications are terrifying. As he remarks, “In business there is nothing wrong with the Judas kiss, providing tongues are not involved.” Be warned.

We are told that he lives alone on the Essex coast. I’m not surprised. – Tim Dodson

Stress in the Workplace – How To Cause It by Howard Edwards is published in softcover (A5 size) by Zebra Press, Cape Town, 2003. It retails at R79.95 – ISBN: 186872 9079)




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