Most people derive satisfaction from believing they’re improving the world around them. In fact, one survey found that 80 percent of workers are attracted to an employer that has a reputation for being a committed environmental steward. And 50 percent would sacrifice higher pay or a promotion in order to work for a business with a good environmental reputation.
But no matter how dedicated your small business is to energy efficiency, you won’t accomplish much without employee or team buy-in. Here are five ways to encourage workers to promote and practice energy efficiency throughout your small business.
- Collect feedback. Employees are likely to know better than you about where energy is being wasted within the company. They can pinpoint unnecessary or inefficient lighting, hot and cold spots in your building, equipment left running when not in use, or furniture covering heating or cooling vents. To gather this feedback, you can use a suggestion box or an online form. Consider making it anonymous to encourage more honest reporting. Make sure to respond to all comments and suggestions in order to encourage more engagement.
- Make a policy. You can combine employee feedback, data from your energy bills, and a free energy assessment from Consumers Energy to make a company-wide energy-efficiency policy. Depending on how your business uses energy, your policy could be as simple as installing LEDs; turning off lights, fans and equipment when not in use; using power strips on all electronics; and installing aerators on faucets to conserve hot water. Or it could include more complex things like HVAC and refrigeration unit cleaning and maintenance.
- Create a green team. Offer your employees a seat at the sustainability table by forming a green team that can oversee and implement your energy policy. It’s important to recruit team members from all levels of your organization, and to emphasize management buy-in. For more about how to set up a green team and what activities the team can undertake, check out ENERGY STAR’s guide.
- Share your goals. The green team can talk to fellow employees about energy efficiency, but it’s a good idea to have multiple messaging mediums. You can find free informational and motivational brochures, postcards and posters here. Creative approaches include light switch covers or sticky notes that remind employees to take action. Consider including energy efficiency information and training in new employee orientations. ENERGY STAR also suggests emailing and posting printouts of your business’ past 6-12 months of energy use information in an area where employees regularly gather. Actually seeing the company’s trends in energy use can inspire people to continue their progress or improve. Update the data monthly, perhaps with an explanation of what employees have achieved.
- Make it fun. Energy efficiency doesn’t have to be just another employee chore. You can give incentives and recognition to people who come up with a good idea or meet an efficiency goal. This can include a pizza party or bagel breakfast for the whole company or team, or a cash reward for an individual employee. Other incentives include tying energy savings into employee bonuses, and hosting energy efficiency recognition events with the company owner or senior management present.
Making energy efficiency a company-wide effort not only helps save the planet and improve your business’s bottom line, but it can also be a team-building exercise that results in happier, healthier employees.