I find writing about energy efficiency really hard. A lot of people just don’t care about it. They’re going to die and really, the solution isn’t in the lifetime of their generation. Why should they care about saving energy or saving their company’s energy costs? It’s something they just want to stick at the back of the mind. Don’t believe me? Take a look at London at night. Almost every office light is on.
Employee engagement can be tough enough at the best of times. But in a climate where costs need to be reduced across the board, the time, energy and resources to focus on internal communications are not always available. But the need to cut energyoverheads will far outlive current hard times. In fact, businesses will need to do this for decades to come.
With further rises in energy prices forecast – caused by hikes in UK demand, coupled with unpredictable supply from closing power plants and shrinking foreign gas resources – all businesses’ ‘to do’ lists are likely to include cutting energy consumption. And the government, through its Energy Efficiency Deployment Office is encouraging businesses to do their bit.
Against this backdrop, we see a growth in internal communications aimed at getting employees to change their behaviour and become more energy-conscious. Employees by their actions can make huge efficiencies yet tend to be disinterested. Oblivious to rising company bills, employees can be disengaged and unaware of the difference they can make by turning off lights, taps and computers at work.
Tried and tested
M&S has already partnered with The Team on an energy efficiency project. The resulting ‘Captain Energy’ employee engagement campaign aimed to make all 78,000 M&S employees more aware of green issues and reduce the company’s energy consumption by 35% by 2015.
So far, it’s working. M&S is on track to meet its 2015 target; partly thanks to the campaign’s green comic-style superhero, wearing a mask, a cape and obligatory pants over tights. He gave practical, personal information to inform and enable change, and was at the centre of websites, stickers and easy-to-understand ‘routine maps’ to show M&S staff how they could save energy day-to-day.
But as we are constantly reminded – through government policies, tax incentives and news stories – businesses still need to do more when it comes to energy-efficiency. And that means a greater need for specialist behaviour-change communications, regardless of the tough times we live in.