HR Strange But True!
March 17, 2003

Though France-bashing has become an American pastime, a couple of executives suggest that French workers might be preferable to American ones, USA Today reports.

Kosuke Shiramizu, the Japanese executive in charge of Toyota's global production, told the Financial Times that workers in Toyota's French plant in Valenciennes were 20 percent more efficient than workers in Toyota's North American plants. Why? Because with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, the average French worker is more motivated than the average worker in the U.S., where the unemployment rate is 5.8 percent.

Meanwhile, new McDonald's President Charlie Bell recently told analysts that McDonald's restaurants in France could be a model for those in the U.S., which have been stumbling.

But on the other side of the argument, there's Yahia Zoubir of the European branch of the Thunderbird School of International Management, who contends it's the French who don't have the "chop-chop to get things done."

And there's a Gallup Organization poll which finds that many French outright hate their jobs, with 6 percent productively happy, or "engaged." In the U.S., the figure is 30 percent.

You'd think the French would be happier, with their five weeks of vacation and 35-hour workweek. Yet they seem to strike often. Perhaps, according to the research director for Gallup in Paris, it has to do with French managers' aversion to giving positive feedback. ""It burns our throats to say good things to people."

Source: USA Today

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