Most of us spend a significant portion of our lives at work, so naturally, it is important that we have a good environment to work in. It is a well-known fact that if a person is feeling down, they bring everyone else down with them. Even though every organisation knows this, in practice, very few organisations take steps to improve Work Environment. We got a chance to Interview Mukund Trivedi, Founder of Straight Drive. Mukund’s latest Venture Straight Drive is an organisation engaged in promoting happiness at workplace.
Many reports suggest that the workplace environment in India is not as good as they are sometimes projected to be. Do you believe that Indians don’t take workplace environment seriously or are they forced to work in such environments?
Mukund: I am not sure whether the problem is specific to India or not. But one thing is certain that a large number of employees in India are suffering due to workplace harassment. The issue in my view can be attributed to our social and cultural construct. There’s so much of taboo about unemployment that people are not ready to take a stand and risk their job. And, the problem is real. No other company then accepts such righteous people. As a result employees keep quiet and that encourages and gives tacit approval to psychopaths who rule such toxic workplaces. Look at the #MeToo movement. Most of these women suffered because they kept quiet and the perpetrators thought no one would ever question their authority.
Today, when the matter is out in the open, everyone is gunning for these perpetrators. The victims of workplace harassment should do the same. Till such time, these tyrants will continue to triumph at the workplace. It’s high time the professionals started acknowledging existence of toxicity, expressing their concerns about disrespectful behavior and saying ‘no’ to any bullying tactics. I remember Ratan Tata once said in an interview, “It gets a bit dangerous when the CEO has no system and his personality drives the organisation, which he runs like his personal fiefdom.”
What has been your personal experience when it comes to workplace environment?
Mukund: I have for most part of my career worked in ethical and professionally managed companies before having a tryst with the toxic entity for a brief period of 11 months. What I noticed that people deliver when you trust them. In fact, they go the extra mile to ensure that work gets done to the satisfaction of all. In toxic workplaces I have seen people living in a constant fear of losing not just their jobs but dignity as well. Truth becomes the greatest casualty in such workplaces. People lie and survive. No one dares to differ. They do what they are asked to do without applying their mind.
Japan is a victim of poor workplace culture with one of the highest suicide rates among professionals highlighting the importance of having a healthy work environment. What learning can you share with the readers about the importance of having a balanced work environment?
Mukund: Enough studies have been done to prove that workplace environmental factors have a profound effect on the health of employees. One study based on the Multiple Risk factor Intervention Trial showed that employees who skipped their annual vacation were more likely to die from coronary heart disease than were couch potatoes or smokers who do get away for a little annual rest and relaxation. The organisations must wake up to the fact that creating a healthy workplace is in their economic interest.
Do you think we should have more regulatory mechanisms in place in order to address workplace issues especially in the private sector?
Mukund: Regulation is important but that alone will not solve the problem. We need to start creating awareness about the problem. Tell me, which organization will declare that it did not select a candidate because the person took a stand against toxic management practices in his/her previous organisation?
What has been your biggest learning in your previous works?
Mukund: People respect you for your work ethics. For me, growing as a person is more important than growing in the organization. I sincerely believe that no organization can earn goodwill where its employees have to compromise their grit, respect and dignity.
Please tell us a little bit more about your current venture, Straight Drive, along with any recent happenings.
Mukund: Our organisation Straight Drive is primarily engaged in promoting happiness at workplace. To start with, we have curated a day-long programme called HyWe, the HappY Workplace conclavE. So far, we have organised two such conclaves, one in New Delhi and the other one in Bengaluru. The idea is to create awareness by highlighting several dimensions of workplace happiness. The event is essentially divided into four segments: Ethical leadership, Health and happiness, Work culture and happiness and Impact of happiness on brand and reputation of the organization. Recently, we have started another initiative called ‘Roundtable Conference’ to highlight the burning topics related to health and happiness of people at workplace. Very soon, we will start conducting diagnostics, workshops & trainings, coaching and counseling services for corporates and individuals. We believe in talking straight from the heart and hence the name of our organization, Straight Drive.