In the second of our four part series, practicing energy consultant Kit Oung explores staff engagement and how to use it successfully to improve energy efficiency.
The UK is seeing a revival of staff engagement and behavioural change within the low carbon industry. To paraphrase Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, “it’s all about engagement, engagement, engagement.”
Governments are engaging experts to find out how to use behavioural theories in rolling out policies. Universities are researching about consumer behavioural change theories. Many large organisations and consultants are joining in on the bandwagon in search of the silver bullet or golden ticket for the most effective means of creating employee buy in – the one way to create employee engagement. The media is fascinated by it.
All businesses have ALL the keys needed to unlock colleagues and employees engagement. Successful behavioural change and staff engagement, like those popularised by Robert Cialdini, Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely, focus inwards rather than finding a solution externally.
Huh? Are you sure?
All employees are experts in the organisations’ ‘politics’ and ‘ways of working’. They know what are their job, what works and what they could ‘get away with’. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 60% of employees are neither engaged nor disengaged with company initiatives. People will continue to behave the same way they behave. As such, external motivators or external barriers have no influence in employee engagement.
In order to consume energy efficiently and effectively, management needs to find ways to motivate and mobilise this dormant resource. At its core, active and sustainable energy management requires a large group of people to be interested in energy reduction, embrace change and then sustain it.
Successful organisations achieve this by linking and customising energy efficient and low carbon communication to each employee or each group of employee performing the same function. In fact, compared to a typical organisation, successful organisations communicate to their employees ten times more often!
Tools to help you engage successfully
Communicate authentically through words and through action. In the context of energy efficiency, this means high personal integrity whose values for energy reduction is aligned with the business goals and is perceived by employees to have high consistency between their words and their actions. Being inauthentic is very easy to identify and significantly undo the messages of energy efficiency and low carbon.
Plan a well thought-out series of messages relevant to your colleagues and employees. Many staff engagement programmes, for whatever reason, cramp in all different types of energy-efficient messages, expecting employees to absorb and apply them from day one. All employees within an organisation use a specific set of information to carry out their job role. The figure below shows how an organisation could use a simple “5-why” method to drill down and develop a communication plan for operators and maintenance technicians reducing natural gas consumption. It shows the direct actions of employees towards natural gas consumption within the building. It also doubles up as a tick sheet to review operational and maintenance requirements and training requirements.
Simplify the language and terminology. Many of the languages and terminologies used are very scientific or engineering by nature. A significant majority of your colleagues and staff, concerns with their own business activities are less well versed in energy and in technology. Therefore, using complicated and bombastic terminologies means nothing. They can’t relate these to their work.
Create opportunities for colleagues and employees to get involves. There is nothing worse than engaging in and being motivated to do something only to find there is nothing that could be done. Create a platform where employees can contribute towards energy reduction and constantly reinforce the energy efficient behaviours by integrating it into normal practices. If it is appropriate, organise for Senior Management to be seen reducing energy consumption. If nothing else, it shows they mean what they say about energy efficiency and helps build authenticity for the future.
Kit Oung is author of Energy management in business: 'The manager’s guide to maximising and sustaining energy reduction' published by Gower. Read the first installment. Next month we'll be looking at: managing energy with ease.
Energy performance is the key topic being explored at the next 2degrees Live event, 'Raising The Energy Performance of Your Properties', which will take place on 25th January 2013. If you are interested in attending please contact Matthew Eastick on +44 (0) 1865 597 640 or email@example.com