“People Are Our Most Valued Asset”. How often do you hear this statement? Trust virtually everywhere you go. Every organization loves to appear to the outside world that they believe in, invest in and take proper care of people within it. But in reality, what they do is the reverse.
Let me explain. I once visited a company premises engaged in the business of aluminum extrusions. Then I was working with an environmental consulting firm that handles the environmental auditing of the company. The reception was looking so clean that you may be tempted to just take a quick nap. The roads were laden with beautiful flowers and the paths and walkways were clearly labeled. You’d just want to conclude that they have everything fixed. Right from the reception, you see colorful paintings of their vision, mission and values. And one statement that caught my attention is: People are our most valued asset.
With my partner, we walked through the different departments into the factory, where the production manager had to take us around. He was an Asian. He clad himself with his protective clothes, nose mask and rubber gloves. Then he gave us nose masks and coats too, leading the way through the factory. As we walked through the furnace area, I noticed that the guys handling the aluminum sheets had no coats on. In fact, they were using makeshift paper gloves. I know that heavy metals are not friends with the human body system due to my training in Environmental Toxicology, so I pointed it out to the production manager. He gave the excuse that the people complain that the coats hinder them and the gloves are not easy to manipulate.
As we left the company premises, I began to ponder on how many workers would have lost their lives due to the extreme heat and continuous inhalation of those toxic metals. Then I considered all the organizations in the country that deal with heavy metals, dusts, stones, chemicals, heat, machines, and other such dangerous materials. Are these people adequately protected? If they are not protected, who is speaking for them seeing that a lot of people in this category are usually unskilled and unlearned?
If truly people are your organizations’ most valued asset, then you must do everything to protect them, even if they don’t know so much to protect themselves. You must ensure that you pay them the wages commensurate to their effort even when they are not smart enough to quantify their own worth. As a father thinks for the child and makes adequate provision for her survival and adaptability, managers should not just be bosses, but shepherds.
Let’s do all we can to show that people are indeed our greatest asset.
To your satisfaction!
Dele Ayo Bankole (DAB)