It’s always interesting talking to businesses about the benefits of developing a more responsible business culture. Quite often there’s a belief that doing anything in the ‘right’ way will be expensive and generate no true value for the business itself.
The truth is that you can spend a lot of money investing in responsible business practices – renewables technologies, community partnerships and commissioning surveys of your staff and customers around diversity and related topics. Those things can absolutely add real value, but, it’s also true that there are loads of opportunities to become a more responsible company at little or even no cost and that profit can be increased through those activities.
So….where to start…?
Focusing on reducing energy use is a great place to start, especially when you consider that the average SME in the UK wastes between a quarter and a third of the energy they buy. How much does your business spend on energy each year….? Do you know how much energy you waste?
Lots of businesses have been evaluating whether they should invest in renewables, and whilst I think that this can be a really sound investment for many businesses, I’d always urge a review of the existing efficiency of their energy before spending money here. After all, you can waste what you are buying or waste what you are making yourself – neither make good business sense.
So, how can you increase your energy efficiency? It sounds like it could be expensive doesn’t it? Well it really doesn’t have to be. The bulk of the wasted energy can be saved through engaging your teams to apply the same good habits they do at home to their workplace. Your teams don’t waste energy deliberately. They often don’t know what they can or should turn off and what needs to be left running.
One easy and very inexpensive way to help people understand what they can and can’t switch off is to buy something like this…
Putting coloured stickers onto switches and plugs means that everyone can be really clear on what they are able to switch off without any concern that they shouldn’t have done.
So….a green sticker means that anyone can turn that switch off as long as they personally have finished using the powered item e.g.: lights / kettles / equipment that isn’t in constant use etc.
An amber sticker means that only those who have an understanding of when something can be powered down should turn that switch off e.g.: the last person to leave a premises at the weekend can power down all lighting or machinery etc.
A red sticker means that no-one should turn that switch off. That could be essential servers or items controlled by overall building control system.
If you really want to get people engaged, then how about offering to share the first six months’ savings with them? Measuring energy use over a six-month period in terms of KWh or similar and then measuring the next six months to see what reduction the team have collectively made will help you to understand the impact they have made and six months is long enough for habits to be formed. Giving a cut of the initial savings to pay for drinks at a Christmas party could be a real motivator. Why not give it a try?
Other areas to explore
This is just the tip of the iceberg… from looking deeper at sustainability, considering diversity and inclusion in a business context to understanding how to engage in community involvement projects that will benefit your business, there’s a lot of benefit that can be driven for very little financial investment.
Building your brand
Of course, making positive changes give you something different to talk to your customers about and whether you are a large business pitching for contracts within corporate or government supply chains or a local business dealing with local people, you can tell your story in a new way by making simple changes. Your reputation and customer advocacy are really important in driving the long-term success of your business and adopting responsible business practices can make a tangible difference to how your brand is perceived.
To learn more…
If this has started you thinking about what you could do and you’d like to know more, why not attend our ‘Driving Value from Values’ workshop which is being run by Ignite Ideas 10-12am on Friday 24 March at our office. Click here for details including eligibility criteria.