On Good Morning America, they just hosted a consultant advising employees worrying about downsizing to work lots of overtime, make sure not to take any sick days, and subordinate family concerns to whatever their boss wants them to do. Then in response to a question from the host about the stock market, she responded that high unemployment “sounds like a bad thing,” but isn’t so bad: it’s good for the stock market because it means the Fed won’t raise interest rates.
What she didn’t say is that high unemployment makes the stock market go up because the prospect of economic insecurity coerces workers into doing all the things that she’s on air advising them to do.
Intel head Andy Grove alluded to this strategy of management through fear in his book Only the Paranoid Survives, writing “Fear plays a major role in creating and maintaining such passion.” He encourages managers to foster “fear of being wrong and fear of losing” in employees as “powerful motivators.”
Indeed, fear of losing freedom from want will powerfully motivate people to work through illness and past their hours on the clock.