Staff Are the Key to Green Business Success

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So, you want to make your business a little greener, and a little more eco-friendly. There are many benefits in doing so; not only can you reduce your environmental impact, but you could potentially your business money, too. But, no matter how much you, as the business owner, want to save energy, reduce waste, and generally minimise your business’s footprint – your efforts are largely pointless unless your staff are on board, too.

Think about it – whether you’re a company of five or five hundred, your staff outnumber you, and if you are going to stand any chance at greening your business, you’ll need to make sure that they are all environmentally aware while in the workplace, and actively engaging in efficiency-improving and emission-reducing practices. As an example, if you are very aware of your energy consumption, and you ensure to turn all electrics off at the wall socket when not in use, but you have twenty staff who simply turn them back on – and leave them on – then your efforts are going to be largely pointless.

So, in order to take the first steps to make your business more environmentally friendly, you must get your staff on board. The easiest and most effective way to do this is with incentives and initiatives.

Government initiatives

First off, you should check to see if your local council or government offers any green business initiatives. For example, there may be a waste recycling scheme, or a cycle-to-work programme that you could encourage your staff to take part in. Make sure that any benefits your company receives from these initiatives are passed down to your staff – they will have less motivation to go green if they can’t see the benefits.

Incentives that your government may offer could include:

Retrofitting –Installing energy efficiency and energy saving measures to buildings. If your business’s building is an older one, then it might not be the most energy efficient. You could benefit from retrofits such as insulation, draught proofing or double glazing.

Transport – Most people travel to work on their own, and many do that in their own individual cars. Your government might be able to award you with a grant to pay for public transport passes for staff, or to invest in bicycles and secure lockups at the workplace.

Renewable energy – if your business has its own method of renewable energy generation, for example through the use of solar panels, then you may be in a position where it can be bought off you. Not only is this much better for the environment, but your business’s bottom line could benefit, too.

In-house initiatives

Now, it’s time to get creative. You need to think outside of the box for ways to really get your staff involved with the business’s green efforts. So, why not create some green initiatives of your own for the workplace? Split your staff into teams – depending on the size of your business, this could be individual people on their own teams, or entire departments competing against each other.

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Next, identify a handful of key areas where you think efficiency could be improved, waste could be reduced, consumption could be optimised, etc, and outline what it is your staff need to do in order to achieve this. Teams can win points based on their green performance, and points mean rewards.

If you’re struggling to think of green objectives to set, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Paper usage – Put limits on the amount of pages each team or staff member can print off per month. Anyone exceeding this limit gets penalised, anyone that uses less than half gets rewarded. Encouraging people to e-mail and use cloud based storage can make a huge impact on a business’s footprint.

Standby saving – Each team should have the responsibility of checking that all the other team have switched off all electrics – at the wall – at the end of each day. This is particularly effective in an office-based business, as the amount of phantom power that computer monitors, printers and other equipment uses can really stack up.

Carpooling – Award bonus points to drivers for each additional person they bring to work with them. If two people decide to carpool with each other – even if they alternate drivers – they are effectively halving their commuting emissions. The more people you get into the habit of carpooling, the more your business’s footprint reduces.

Create a league table to keep track of everyone’s progress and keep it where they can all see. This help to keep environmental awareness at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Drastic changes don’t happen overnight – they will take time – the main thing is to keep your staff interested and motivated. For example, if you notice that one team is regularly at the bottom of the league table, it’s likely that they will lose interest in your green initiatives. So, you could offer them the opportunity to gain extra points – a bonus round of sorts.

Remember, it’s not about what you’re giving away to your staff now, it’s about making a permanent change in their everyday habits while in the workplace. So even if you have to invest a little money upfront in rewards for your staff, even after you finish the competition, the changes they have made a likely to stick with them, and will continue to benefit you and your business in the future.

Hannah Corbett, the author of this post, is a writer passionate about green businesses and energy efficiency. Hannah spends much of her time keeping up to date with the latest in renewable technology and energy saving. You can connect with her on Twitter or Google Plus, or find out more about  business energy efficiency here.

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