Making employees crawl in public, a strange management technique in China

A cosmetics firm in the central Chinese city of Chongqing has found a unique approach to teaching its employees stress management: forcing them to crawl on all fours around a public monument.
On Thursday, around lunch-time, surprised passersby witnessed a strange sight: fifteen or so people — mainly women — in business attire crawling on all fours around the Liberation monument in the heart of Chongqing’s business district. Photos and videos of the scene spread rapidly on Chinese social media, causing widespread indignation.
Photo published on Weibo. 
The “exercise” stopped when police forced the employees to leave the premises and reprimanded the organisers. After a quick investigation, the police reported that the firm was trying to teach its employees how to work in stressful conditions.
This is not the first time a Chinese firm has made headlines for controversial management techniques. Last January, a hotel company in the northeast caused a stir when it made its employees participate in boot camp-like activities.

“Online, people are accusing the firm of treating its employees like slaves”

Lu Haitao lives in Shanghaï
The video caused a lot of anger on social media and generated a great deal of negative comments. On Weibo [China’s equivalent of Twitter], it even became one of the most popular trending topics. Viewers have accused the firm of treating its employees like slaves, of insulting their dignity.
After the incident, journalists went to visit the cosmetics firm at the heart of the scandal, Mirda Cosmetics Co., Ltd. In their report, an employee explains that the firm had set a goal they had not met, and so had that the company had to find a new way to “encourage” the team. He claims it was not just a form of punishment. Another employee told the reporter of a time he was forced to read a book out loud in the street and that most passersby thought he was crazy.
“I have been insulted before, and I had to take it”
There have been many similar incidents in China. Some firms have forced their employees to bark like dogs or to run naked in public. Labour codes are not really respected in China, and unscrupulous bosses believe that their employees must obey every directive in exchange for their salary. They also believe that this type of training improves teamwork and overall productivity. Since it is difficult to find employment these days, employees must bend to their bosses’ orders, even if their dignity suffers. It happens to many people, myself included: I’ve been insulted by a superior before and just had to take it.


On being made to crawl

It is an interesting management technique. I wonder if it is based on psychological experiences or knowledge. The comment it is used for 'stress management' is interesting. Why? What is it that could create this result?

Speaking only from my own experience, humiliation or enforced subservience can have this effect:
1. It destroys the spirit: a bit like breaking an animals spirit. (I am sure many farmers are familiar with this approach. You need to break the animals spirit, is a common cliche).
2. If unfair, it can create a sense of internal humiliation. The victim feels ashamed. They have made a fool of themselves in their own eyes. So maybe they will try harder, they will want to 'compensate' . (Also, maybe next time, they will learn not to get angry, for example, if anger was what preceded the humiliation).

So it could be useful in stressful situations for this reason. As the stressful situation might be one that has created anger in a staff person who has just been abused by a customer for example, or told by a business partner that they are going to be sacked, ruined, or lose investments. It is likely to create anger, or stress. An employee might be terribly distraught.

Without wishing to suggest anything about the company's aims in this story, but in regard to the comment by a reader that it looks like people are being treated as slaves, this is what occurred to me in reading it.
That is: The subjugation of the ego helps to reduce a sense of injustice or anger, and in this sense, can be helpful to reduce stress.

By KW.