Employers in the UK are struggling to understand the minds of their employees and as a result are missing an opportunity to save more than £300m a year by improving energy and waste efficiency.
Just 23% of employees have been asked to help save energy at work by their manager, research from the Carbon Trust has found. Whilst the vast majority, 92%, worry about the cost of energy at home, less than half are concerned about it whilst at work.
Richard Rugg, managing director of programmes at the Carbon Trust, said, “Employees are the greatest asset of UK 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.”
He added that to be effective employers need to understand what motivates or blocks good behaviour. The survey found that most employees are willing to make changes to their work routines in order to conserve energy.
Some 60% of workers said they would take action if they were financially rewarded. However, praise was found to be almost as effective as financial incentives with 58% stating they are more likely to think about energy usage if their actions are recognised.
Carbon Trust added that reducing the energy used for lighting by 10% would bring about savings of over £55m annually for the UK. By adopting environmental behaviours and changing how employers commute to the workplace could result in the UK cutting annual emissions by more than 6m tonnes, the organisation added.
The report aims to provide guidance on how businesses can encourage change and engage with their employees to make more sustainable choices.
Rugg added, “A small but growing number of organisations are starting to recognise the opportunity in engaging their workforce in low carbon behaviour.
“But even when they have the best intentions, many organisations struggle to engage employee power. It takes more than just an occasional nagging email or a ‘switch me off’ sticker to tap into the opportunity. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, it is important to understand the workplace and the people in it. It takes time to turn actions into habits.”