Zillions of folks of all ages and demographics flooded the streets around the world on Friday September 27 in support of a dying Mother Earth. Check out the picture of one supporter with the sign “The climate is changing why aren’t we?” Very good question.
Here’s a graph I put together that helps answer the question, at least with respect to the Canadian government. What you see are results from the latest (2018) Public Service Employee Survey. We’re talking about over 100,000 employees who deal with the millions of issues, needs, and complaints we have related to the rapidly accelerating external social, economic and climate changes. The graph shows that while external factors like climate change have an explosive trajectory the internal conditions necessary to deal with that are frozen.
For example: Only 65% of federal government employees agree that they have a chance to provide input into important decisions, down from 68% in 2015. Over a third of employees agree that their work suffers because of “constantly changing priorities” (about the same as the 40% in 2014), and almost half (43%) of all Canadian federal government employees agree that “too many approval steps” hurts their ability to serve you, exactly the same as in 2014.
There’s plenty more evidence that exists from the survey showing that while politicians in this national election are busy promising “change” to save our planet and to especially save their political careers, the machinery of government to actually address external environmental changes is stalled and has been for years. A toxic workplace climate is in no position to help heal the environmental climate.
Way back in 2005 Francisco Dao warned in a Canadian Conference Board Executive Report (Business is Evolving–Not Just in the Way You Might Think) that “The dangers of internal inflexibility have always been a problem. Why is it more important now? Because we are in a period of unprecedented changes in the global competitive environment.” We can also add the unprecedented threats to our planet.
The answer to the calcification that is choking internal environmental structures and systems of our bureaucracy is no mystery. Many organizations are reconfiguring their operations to be far less mechanistic, linear, and deterministic and far more organic, networked, and consequently responsive to external changes. Where this is especially evident is in recognizing the importance of workplace climate change.