Employee involvement key to helping businesses reduce energy costs, says Carbon Trust

by Shane Henson — January 20, 2014—Employees can play an integral role in helping their employers reduce building energy costs, but too many businesses are missing out on the opportunity of partnering with their workers to advance their energy-saving and sustainability agendas, according to a survey released by the Carbon Trust.

The organization’s survey of 1,135 U.K. employees found that less than a quarter have been asked to help save energy at work, and fewer than half are concerned about the cost of energy for their employer.

The research highlights how U.K. workplaces are missing out on more than £300 million a year in savings that could be achieved through encouraging employees to adopt behaviors that reduce energy use and waste, says the Carbon Trust.

“Employees are the greatest asset of U.K. business, but when most of us enter the office, we take far less care to save energy and use resources efficiently than we do at home. The good news is that employees are willing to help, and by understanding how employees act in the workplace, businesses can unlock significant bottom line savings.”

The survey uncovered a number of insights into employee attitudes and behavior that can be helpful in designing effective campaigns in the U.K. and elsewhere. For example:

  • A full 60% say they would be more likely to save energy at work if they were praised, twice the number that felt they would respond positively to criticism.
  • Praise is almost as effective as money in motivating staff: 60% say they are more likely to take action if financially rewarded, and 58% more likely if to do it if their actions were recognized.
  • Employees are willing to change: 80% would share a car journey with a colleague, and 74% would replace a meeting with a video conversation.
  • Only 22% of employees are confident that they know what actions to take to save energy at work, and just 16% are sure that they have the authority to do it.

For more information on the survey and strategies on how to partner with employees to advance energy and sustainability initiatives, view the Carbon Trust’s report, Low Carbon Behaviour Change: The £300 Million Opportunity.