Paul Higgins, operations director at Mace, provides his top 10 tips on how businesses can incorporate sustainability principles when burdened with financial constraints.
1. Understand the way the business operates in terms of sustainable processes and resources now
Find out what ‘sustainability’ means to the staff at all levels – agree a common definition and share this.
Find out too what processes are already in place. There will be some in varying degrees of completeness or effectiveness - decide their pros and cons in value-added terms, do a gap analysis, and develop a common standard across the organisation.
2. Help shape how these processes and resources can be made more efficient
Look at what you have found and how it can be improved without it costing any more. Test this with colleagues. For example, could you do something differently, better or not at all? What would be the outcome? Is it value for money?
Could there be training to help all employees better understand it?
Once all the key questions have been considered, select the best way with which to implement key changes.
3. Benchmark your costs against others in an organisation
How much are you spending on your sustainability practices? In order to have the most cost-effective practices, benchmark how much you’re spending against others in an organisation to get an idea of a practical budget. There will be good and bad practice, so capture the good.
4. Seek advice with how resource and efficiency can be organised
Through taking advice from others on how resource and efficiency can be organised, you can learn some key tips for future reference. By getting a wide range of information before implementing any resource and efficiency practices, you and your team can gain a better understanding of what needs to be done.
5. Initiate the dialogue with the people who will deliver the solutions to test their viability
Engage with the people within the organisation who are in a position to make decisions, spread influence and encourage others. Make them ‘champions of change’ and keep them in the communications loop as advocates
6. Use your influence to encourage your team to want to change, people need to be willing
Use your position to help your team get motivated towards having a more sustainable and efficient environment. In order to be successful in your practices, it will need to be a team effort, so helping everyone to become and remain motivated is crucial.
7. Take small steps rather than big strides
When implementing new sustainable processes and resources, especially when considering spending, is it important to make small changes within a structured timetable. This will minimise chances of failure or disappointment and maintain motivation within your team. Smaller changes will be easier to implement, large ones leave more room for failure and could end up being counter-productive.
8. Monitor progress along the way
Setbacks are not negatives, they are positives. Remember, if you don’t have targets and measure progress towards them how do you know how well you are doing? What isn’t measured isn’t managed!
9. Reinvest the savings made
Adopting sustainable measures doesn’t need to create a financial burden – at least not over the long term. Reducing carbon in all its forms reduces consumption, which in turn reduces costs.
Let people know the money is used in a positive way and they will be keen to engage.
10. Celebrate success
Take the time to celebrate any successes you have with sustainability practices within the workplace. This will go hand in hand with helping those around you to stay motivated.
☛ Paul Higgins is operations director at Mace