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People First, nudging towards energy efficiency

Recently, our attention might be refocused to caring for loved ones and ensuring neighbours have everything they need, but here’s a quick thought on the state of energy efficiency in the workplace.

Most organisations are well on their way in setting, measuring and delivering their energy and carbon reduction programmes, but when you review the work done to date, is there concern over the longevity of the implemented schemes if ‘people’ are left out of the equation?

behavioural change and employee engagement

Respondents to the last EEVS / BNEF Energy Efficiency Trends survey reported “Behaviour Change” as the third most commissioned energy efficiency measure. However, nearly all organisations leave this vital step as an afterthought, losing out on the 10% energy savings a well-crafted awareness programme can bring. Worldview Learning, a provider of workplace engagement solutions explores why employee engagement shouldn’t be the last ‘energy saving scheme’ you implement, but the first!

So why don’t organisations invest in employee engagement programmes at the beginning of their carbon reduction journey? The answer is probably more complicated than you might imagine.  Companies set reduction targets that are implemented when energy saving measures typically have a return on investment of less than 3 years, and the person who holds the purse strings is comfortable that they will recover the investment with minimal risk.  Most hardware-based investment has some reasonable level of efficiency history that can be used to quantify the risk, and, when combined with the need to make year on year savings to meet agreed reduction targets, small packages of hardware-based saving measures can be planned for over the coming months and years to ensure the organisations or individual’s targets box is being ticked.

When you consider that ‘people’ design your building and infrastructure, utilise your work spaces, install your energy saving measures, programme and maintain your assets and technology, and interact with all your energy consuming equipment, wouldn’t it make sense to have them ‘on board’ before you start making changes to their workplace?

After all, they’ll be the ones making choices about whether they make the new system work or not.

employees go green

Don’t just take our word for it, a report for the Committee on Climate Change (Oct 2019) states that: “The UK is not on course to meet the legally binding fourth and fifth carbon budgets and rising to the challenge of Net Zero will require major progress in all sectors and for behavioural change to play a much greater role.”

The impact of engaging people first is that every scheme you implement from then onwards should be embraced and understood rather than rejected in favour of a scheme purely based on a ‘return on investment’ time frame.  Furthermore, it promotes a richer relationship bond between employer and employee where empowerment and free choice result in a happier workforce and an increase in performance.  Recent research carried out by HR.com showed that, “over 90% believe there is solid evidence linking engagement to performance, and they believe it has the strongest impact on customer service and productivity”.

So whilst most organisations are not effectively delivering a behavioural change programme, those that do, and do it early enough, see the obvious savings in energy, they maximise the benefits from their technologies and they also attract young, sustainability focused, people to their businesses who assess potential employers based on their commitment of energy and carbon reduction to give the best possible outcome for their future.

And remember, it’s the motivation of working towards a worthwhile goal that keeps nudging you forward during the hardest of times.

employee engagement promotes energy efficiency