Britain's stressed-out bosses become basket cases

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HIGH-FLYING executives are being offered an emotional outlet from the stress of sacking employees: they are learning "to see themselves in a different context" through basket-weaving.

The senior managers are asked to create complex woven baskets or sculptures and are then told to destroy them as a way of confronting issues of loss and change.

"These business people are learning how to deal with change in the workplace," said Rod MacIntosh, a sculptor who has developed the weaving project and who works for the Florence Trust, a charitable-arts foundation in London.

"It is an idea that is becoming popular," he said. "There is a definite therapeutic value to it and it is a tool for getting to know yourself."

"Many times people are not prepared to destroy their own piece. They ask if they can take it home instead," said Ken Ideus, of Feedback International, the Nottingham-based firm that organises the art workshops for companies such as The Body Shop and AC Nielsen, the international data analysts. "Some of the work created is beautiful. They are things that really should be in The Tate and when I ask them to destroy them I hear a sharp intake of breath. I tell them to remember how they feel at that point."

Mr Ideus, who comes from Nebraska, in the US, believes that any firm coming through job losses or other change can benefit. He said: "In the case of a large international company, such as AC Nielsen, it will often have at least six nationalities present in any group. I need to take them out of the business model to look at change in a different way."

Mark McAleer, of AC Nielsen, said his firm was happy with the results. "We wanted to do something radical. From our perspective this working- with-the-arts is a way of breaking down barriers. We have been through a lot of staff reductions and this is a way of helping people adapt to change and understand the global structure of our business."