French people are so underworked it’s leading to clinical depression

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 02 October 2015 14:18
French worker's traditional 'relaxed' attitude to work may be harming their mental health
French worker's traditional 'relaxed' attitude to work may be harming their mental health

French workers are so underworked they are becoming clinically depressed, according to one academic.

Christian Bourion, professor of social economics at Nancy Metz ICN Business School, believes French workers are getting “destructured personalities” and suffering from psychological trauma as a result of boredom.

The professor developed a programme that detected certain phrases, related to workplace boredom, in France’s online chat rooms, according to The Times.

His results demonstrated a dramatic escalation of workers complaining about their boring days: in 2011 the words “bored at work” appeared 184,000 times – in 2015 the same words appeared 542,000 times.

Professor Bourion believes France’s tough employment laws are partially to blame. Excellent worker rights make it extremely difficult to fire employees, even when they have nothing to do.

France’s six million public sector workers – whose jobs are often created to keep down the unemployment rate – are particularly at risk

“I’ve got a well-paid job . . . but when I get to work at 7.45am and by 8am I’ve read all my mails and I’m wondering what I’m going to do for the rest of the day, it’s depressing,” said a local government officer who participated in the study.

But, the study cautioned that other factors may have contributed to its results. “Workers used to be ashamed to admit to doing nothing in the office,” professor Bourion cautioned. “Now they are prepared to talk about it.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments