Elon Musk probably wants to rid himself of dead wood and make room for the go-getters
Elon, Elon. What’s going on? You’ve done some crazy-but-it-might-just stuff over the years and proved the haters wrong: PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, the 10 children, the Twitter takeover. But I fear you have finally lost it.
When you start channelling Jerry Maguire and yelling “Go hardcore or quit! Who’s with me?” Nobody is. Not even Renée Zellweger’s goldfish.
That’s not our way here in the Old Country. The secret to the American Dream is in the name, Elon. You can punch your fist in the air as high as you like. But exhorting anyone in these shores to do anything just leads to awkward silence.
In fact, we are considerably more famous the world over for our awkward silences than our dreams. That’s at the best of times. You don’t have to be Dickens to recognise these look suspiciously like the worst of times.
We are in the midst of a “unique labour shock”. The Governor of the Bank of England said that. And it didn’t have anything to do with Starmer’s post-Truss 39 per cent lead in the polls.
The labour market is in free-fall, due to a surge in early retirement and long-term sickness that has left Britain isolated among industrialised economies, according to Andrew Bailey.
NHS waiting lists have left a record 2.5 million people languishing at home due to long-term illness, up from 2 million in 2019. And it’s getting worse; an extra 133,000 people disappeared from the workforce for that very reason in the three months to September alone.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has just announced an extra £6.6 billion for the NHS over the next two years which theoretically could help the long-term sick back to work.
In practice, it would arguably be better spent on a fundamental reform of our sclerotic health system, however that doesn’t have the same crowd-pleasing splash as throwing ever more cash into the money pit.
At the risk of sounding like a Cassandra, Jeremy Hunt’s bitter autumn budget medicine looks unlikely to kickstart economic growth.
Vacancies are also unfilled in almost every sector, because those who aren’t sick are tired – and insisting they need to work from home and walk their lockdown dogs – instead of schmoozing their way to promotion.
The number of job vacancies in the economy remains around the highest on record, meaning competition is driving up wage costs.
“Skills and labour shortages have reached crisis points…it’s a ticking time bomb for firms up and down the country.” That comes courtesy of the British Chamber of Commerce. Not much Build Back Better dynamism to be had there.
During her leadership campaign, Liz Truss launched an astonishing broadside against British workers, saying they needed “more graft” and suggested they lacked the “skill and application” of foreign rivals.
Mind you, she still got the gig, so presumably the facts spoke for themselves and nobody thought that it was particularly controversial. But workshyness isn’t just a British malaise.
A survey this week revealed that “mass French lethargy” risks cutting productivity at a time when the French are already “unhappy with their purchasing power and the state of public services”.
The study by the French Institute of Public Opinion showed that while in 1990 around 60 per cent of French people said work was “very important” to them, that figure has sunk to 21 per cent.
But back to Twitter and Elon’s eccentric belief that “hardcore or quit” will achieve anything other than a swathe of voluntary redundancies here in lazybones Britain.
Could it be that was his intention? It’s certainly less time-consuming than sacking his team one by one, which seems to have been his modus operandi thus far.
But he probably wants to rid himself of dead wood and make room for the go-getters. Oh dear. The only thing the average member of the British labour force wants to go and get is another latte. I’m not sure what the answer is, but Elon is at least a workaholic, so I expect he’ll come up with something. Or run the entire shebang himself – the algorithms could do with improvement judging from the ongoing chaos over suspensions, blue ticks and the random culling of followers.
“A company is a group organised to create a product or service, and it is only as good as its people and how excited they are about creating.”
Guess who said that? Why yes, Elon himself. He has pledged to develop new social media solutions. But first he must tackle a very pressing people problem.
17 November 2022 • 6:48pm