EHS OutLoud Blog
overcoming monotony at work

Unleashing “WOW” on Monotony

Is monotony hurting your EHS program?

We EHS professionals are energy-delivery devices. We infuse our organizations with the promise of a future through the protection of all that is important. It is through our energy that the power of EHS programs are bought and sold. We recharge. We reengage. We rebound upon the advent of every obstacle, not because it is there, but because it should not be. Well, every obstacle except one ... monotony.

Take a look at this schedule and see if it sounds familiar:

6:30 a.m. Monday morning. The facility is yet to awaken. Same, same. You’re planning your day starting with last week’s to-do list and this week’s gotta-do list. 8 a.m. meeting with the boss, 10 a.m. meeting with production, 12:30 p.m. meeting with operations, 2:00 p.m. meeting with facilities and 15 more telecons between 2:30 and 5:00 p.m. Same as last week and the week before and...

6:25 a.m. Tuesday morning. Your last week’s to-do list now is indistinguishable from your gotta-do list for this week. 8:30 a.m. and your walk-abouts start. By 9 a.m., you receive a call from an employee complaining about a nauseating odor in his office. There goes one planned to-do item on your list thanks to this an unplanned one. It is now 3:00 p.m. and you’re wondering where your day went. It seems gone to the gremlins of time.

6:27 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. More of the same. More seemingly nonproductive meetings, more to-dos not done, more unplanned events overtaking your day. More of more except that it seems less of less. Your days and weeks are silently becoming monotonous, ever dulling the crispness in your walk and the corresponding “wow” in your beloved EHS program.

Does this schedule sound familiar? Do you ever feel the need to shake yourself out of monotony? Or are you unable to answer these questions because you’ve fallen asleep?

Perhaps we allow such monotony to overpower us because it happens so gradually and incrementally. Soon thereafter, if left unchecked, we become the spectators of predictable and preventable events – events that nonetheless can carry significant safety consequences for all involved.

When you reach this point, the “wow” is definitely gone, but can you get it back? Yes!

Unleashing “Wow” On Its Nemesis: Monotony

What is “wow”? Everyone has their own definition and there is certainly no right or wrong answer, but one thing is for sure: An EHS program that is infused with “wow” performs at levels that are, well, “wow”. It is easy to tell when you have it.

Work toward helping your organization eradicate “business as usual” by not being business as usual yourself. Think larger than your position. Envision beyond the moment. Apply your professional skills in such a way as to inject excitement into the organization.

Do so by creating partnerships and projects that involve everyone within the organization, including the supervisor’s boss, that person's boss, and beyond. Counter monotony. Be the technical consultant to the process and gradually turn over ownership to the rightful owner of EHS programs: the work force. Guide them. Encourage them. Teach them how to celebrate those milestones that encourage the right behaviors at the right time, every time – not "just because," but because the “wow” is now back in the house. The one you unleashed!

Favor trust; all is based on it. Embrace relentlessness and persistence to regain the crispness of your walk and the excitement infused by those owning their EHS program.

New week: 6:30 a.m. and the facility is awakened ...Wow!

TAGS: Safety
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