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Training staff to improve resource efficiency in offices

Resources:
Energy, Materials, Water, Waste, Carbon
Sector:
All sectors, Office and administration
Cost:
Medium cost
Annual saving:
10 - 30 %
Payback time:
1 - 3 Year(s)
Read more
ROI is difficult to generalise; it depends on the time needed to conduct the training, as well as the amount of success related to staff behavioral changes
Total cost savings:
Low-cost measures like training can result in up to 30 % water and material savings [1]
Premises and operation areas:
Office management
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Beginner
One off investment:
1500 - 5000€
What is in it for you:
Changing behaviour and better engaging employees offers both cost benefits and an overall improvement in corporate image.
Descriptive information:

In steering changes towards more efficient and greener performance in a company, it is important to engage staff in the process to ensure that they are on-board. It is always a challenge to change peoples' behaviour and established practices. Reluctance and resistance to change are normal. However, by consulting staff and clearly communicating the need for change, it is possible to gain their full support. 

Informing employees about the benefits of using resources more efficiently and training them on what and how to change existing practices is important to gaining their trust during energy transition phases. This awareness-raising and training should be part of a wider corporate social responsibility policy in which the company's aims and objectives are clearly communicated. 

Training of employees can take on several forms: 

Training workshops:  A company can organise periodic workshops and training courses for all employees, where an external trainer or a company's sustainability officer can give a lesson on the subject tuned to the specificities of a company. It can also be incorporated into mandatory training of company employees. 

Incorporated into new-hire processes: As part of their orientation programme, every newcomer can be briefed about the company's environmental policies and practices, encouraging them to set personal sustainability targets as part of their job description.    

Illustration materials: Using eye-catching posters, pamphlets and signs also works as an indirect form of staff training. This information can provide simple and clear instructions on what changes in behaviour are required (e.g. how to recycle, reduce water use) and be placed in prominent locations, for example around the printer, in the kitchen, reception, etc.  

Electronic channels: Using the company's intranet and computer-based training are also useful information-sharing alternatives. 

Training modules need to focus on the most important messages and should be short. Companies can combine training on resource efficiency with the available information on safety and occupational issues. The content should also include basic information that can help to dispel certain myths circulating about resource efficiency. For example, turning the thermostat higher than the desired temperature does not heat a room faster! Using screensavers and standby mode on desktops after work or on weekends does not save energy by not rebooting!

Training measures could be combined with incentives for employees to increase their motivation. (See Factsheet on positive incentives for employees to reduce the use of resources). It is important to provide all staff with opportunities to actually engage in specific activities and provide them with a system to monitor the change in their behaviour and see first-hand the outcomes (e.g. how much paper saved or recycled). 

Sources

Resource Efficient Scotland, Resource efficiency at work, http://www.resourceefficientscotland.com/content/resource-efficiency-work

UNEP, PRE-SME toolkit, https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/promoting-resource-efficiency-small-and-medium-sized-enterprises-industrial

OECD Green Growth Studies, 2014, Greener Skills and Jobs, http://www.oecd.org/greengrowth/greener-skills-and-jobs-9789264208704-en.htm

EPA Victoria, 2008, Hints and tips for improving resource efficiency in your business, http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/~/media/Publications/1255.pdf

 

 

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