Most people would nowadays claim to be reasonably energy efficient at home, but once they’re in an office environment that efficiency does tend to go out of the window – quite literally
Because office buildings are typically responsible for up to almost half the nation’s energy consumption, this is an area that needs urgent addressing.
The reasons for this temporary amnesia can be many and varied. Many people just don’t think about the issue outside their own immediate territory and consider such things to be the sole responsibility of the employer and nothing to do with them. This is essentially seeing an absence of personal interest or value in, say, unplugging equipment.
Here are a few suggestions for getting employees to take some ownership for energy conservation in the workplace.
The majority of employees who have no apparent interest in energy conservation in their workplace are not malicious or stupid, but are simply unaware of the environmental and financial advantages of saving energy there. Managers can address this issue by supplying information on the matter and highlighting its importance. Factoids on energy savings can be sent out on a regular basis to provide statistics such as switching a printer off at night saving the equivalent of over 1000 photocopies.
Set up an action team
Many of the most effective campaigns and initiatives within an organization are not generated by management at all. They come straight from the workforce. Motivated individuals in many organizations around the globe are pooling resources and know-how to set up ‘action teams’ in the workplace whose aim is to raise the level of environmental awareness in their colleagues. Such teams are more than happy to be passed on the responsibility of educating their friends and colleagues in the green arts of energy conservation.
As many people are painfully aware, habits are often difficult to break, and such things as not switching off office equipment at the end of the working day are nothing more nor less than often deeply entrenched habits. They can be gradually changed, like most such habits, by a process of steady attrition. For example, leave notes and reminders at strategic places such as next to light switches and printers so that employees turn them off before leaving. And of course managers should set the best example and provide a role model to emulate.
Many businesses have discovered, as if it weren’t blindly obvious, that providing financial incentives effectively motivates employees to behave more eco-consciously. For example, giving gift cards or even shares to employees who lead the way in energy conservation can have a great effect. The reward could be for things such as cycling to work, buying a hybrid car or coming up with an innovative energy saving strategy.
Making use of electronic documents instead of printing them will save many trees. Accounting documents can be kept in electronic format with software like QuickBooks by Intuit Australia while you could use backup services such as Google Drive Business to store your contracts instead of archiving them in the file storage boxes.
Environmentally conscious activities in the workplace don’t have to be approached with grim determination. Making them interesting, fun and positive is a much more effective means of motivating people. This could mean organizing employee competitions or creating an amusing video on YouTube, and there are countless other ways of getting the workforce involved and boosting overall morale at the same time.
Carlo Pandian is a green campaigner for Transition Network and loves sharing sustainable business tips with the community of Greenfinder. When he’s not online, Carlo loves volunteering at his local community garden and cycling in the countryside.
Thank you for reading 5 ways to engage employees in energy savings.