Today is 05 June, World Environment Day. All over the world, societies, countries, and organizations affirm today that the environment is important, and we must save it to the best of our capability. We nurture nature, air, water, plant trees, and so on. HSE departments in organizations celebrate the day and take oaths to make the environment cleaner. Targets are made and monitoring is done to see if we remain on the track or not. Everyone feels happy. But are we missing something here? Can a fresh look be taken while celebrating Environment Day?
I find a lack of understanding or the feeling of a job being done half, in all these environment day celebrations. The environment is not only air, water, and trees. It is much more. In fact, all of us in this world need an environment to grow. Till that environment is taken care of, nothing is going to change, except in bits and pieces.
The environment focussed on is the external environment. HRs and Psychologists in organizations have been talking about “Mental health”; “Psychological/Emotional safety” and “Loving and caring environment” for decades, but it has still not reached the policymakers. I doubt if anyone does not know that physical health has no meaning if mental health is not taken care of. Physical safety has little meaning unless we feel protected emotionally in our organization against blame, criticism, and bias. Similarly, a clean environment cannot bring joy to our work life till we feel loved and cared for in our surroundings.
The key difference is tangible and intangible. Currently, our focus is on “Tangible” whereas no complete success is possible till we focus on “Intangibles” too.
The environment is the most important
We pick up good schools and colleges for the environment. We prefer a gym to work out in the house alone. We enjoy matches more in stadiums than on TV. Watching a movie in a theatre is more satisfying than on a laptop. We prefer a friendly environment.
We know all these fully. But still, the management does not keep any budget for this in the estimates. Environmental expense is limited to the beautification of the premises, which is limited in its effectiveness to motivate the employees. A mind full of fear and anxiety does not find solace even in the most beautiful places in the world. Environment IS important. It makes us feel safe, comfortable, respected, and trusted, where we can have fun as well. In a positive environment, we drop our guards, we let the hair loose, and we are natural. And if we are working on a greater purpose in that environment, we are innovative, we are productive, we are efficient. We can take the organization to another orbit.
Do we understand that within every employee, there is a hopeful human being that wants to grow, despite their limitations? We want to contribute to the company. We may not be sure as to how to do it, but we have the intentions. They are looking to the management to render their services. We want management to trust us, teach us, and utilize us for everyone’s benefit. People know that everybody can be happy only when growth is planned for everyone. We do not want the managers to exploit us or look after only specific people. We do not want groups to hold the management to ransom. We want an environment to grow ourselves.
We observe and duplicate what the elders and the society does. We feel that it is the only way to live and behave. The others’ behaviors and actions seem a bit abnormal to us, if not downright ridiculous. Environment, simply put, is what we see and duplicate. It is not taught.
Let me ask you a question. If the management of any enterprise has an environment of trust, talks nicely to the employees, and thinks positively about the running of the company with suitable technical tools, what are the chances that the enterprise will not be profitable? Almost Nil. Let me remind the readers about the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, where the author affirms that if we focus on the right people in the right place, rest everything automatically falls in place.
I doubt that any manager in the world does not know that a good environment is more productive than a troubled one in any teamwork; that people want to be trusted as they mostly are; they want to be talked nicely, especially when they are afraid. The employees want to be encouraged, to be nurtured, to be trained, so that they have the confidence to take the work they are supposed to do. The employees want to be trusted when they make a mistake that they were indeed trying to do something better for the organisation, as per their current level of thinking. Treating them roughly in those times, literally stops innovation in the enterprise completely, not only in that specific individual.
Do our words encourage? Does our action seem encouraging? Does the environment feel safe for us to try to do our best or do we feel afraid and stick to a bare minimum, whatever is required of us? Do we ever go beyond our roles and responsibility? Are employees encouraged to try new things or stick to the process in force? Does a company grow doing the same thing again and again?
The answers to these are a direct indicator of the efficiency and profitability of the company. It is time for the management to understand the importance of the environment.
The important functions of senior management are not limited to strategic planning and long-term vision alone. It includes making a thriving environment where the employees are fully engaged, not just working for the pay and perks. I find policies and programs missing to take care of these, in almost all organizations, whether small or large, that I know of. Let us expand the word environment when we celebrate Environment Day and let every day be an environment day throughout the year.
Thanks for reading till the end. Would be grateful for your comments on the above.