At the beginning of 2015, if you’d asked anyone in our company about how green the company is they would always have spoken about the eco-credentials of our products. Ask them now, and they will tell you enthusiastically about how much energy we create from our solar panels, or how many plastic bottles we save in a year thanks to using glass milk bottles. So what has happened?
"We’ve seen creativity, collaboration between different areas of the company, and most importantly a rise in staff happiness. During a Happiness at Work survey, many staff members commented (without prompting!) on how their participation in the Go Green team had helped them feel more engaged at work"
In March 2015, we signed up to Go Green.
The scheme offered a helpful tool suggesting many different ideas for ways in which a company might make sustainable improvements. Rather optimistically, I ticked all of the boxes where I thought we could be doing more, creating an enormous list of over 40 actions to complete. Not exactly a SMART plan in any sense of the word!
In a bid to make some progress, I arranged a meeting with everyone in the company, explained the different areas of the action plan and asked if anyone might be interested to help out. An awkward silence followed, and my spirits fell.
Then, just as I was considering moving on, a voice calls out “I’d be keen to be the happiness champion”, only to be followed by another one volunteering to take on the topic of water. Every member of staff, directors included, volunteered to take part. Whilst some staff were happy to fulfil a role to themselves, others preferred to work in a group. What was noticeable was that once we’d reached a critical mass, it was clear that nobody wanted to be left out of the group.
With this level of engagement it was clear we could achieve a lot.
So I clearly allotted everyone a topic based on the area they were interested in or had expertise, and gave them the relevant list of actions from the plan. The areas were:
- Energy champion
- Water champion
- Purchasing and waste champions
- Wildlife champions
- Happiness champion
- Technology champion
- Travel & Logistics champion
I behaved as the group leader, supporting everyone in their roles, checking up on them and arranging meetings. We meet once a month, and generally a lot of the work gets done the week before the meeting! The directors have put on a healthy breakfast for staff for the last 2 meetings so we can try to start the meeting early in the day and not disrupt work too much. With a position in marketing in the company, I also took responsibility for the reporting and communication of our achievements.
So what are the outcomes?
Thanks to the coordinated efforts and “all hands on deck” approach we are set to complete 93% of our ambitious action plan by the end of this year, with the remaining 7% in progress.
Our most impressive achievement is the installation of a 20 kWp Solar PV system, making our headquarters now 100% fossil fuel free. We had considered solar before, but since our action plan involved a review of the energy usage of our building we looked at it again.
Small achievements though have had a big impact, such as reviewing our computer settings, putting signs up to help staff compost more, and arranging a big collection of our old IT equipment to ByteBack.
The most unexpected positives have emerged in our staff behaviour. We’ve seen creativity, collaboration between different areas of the company, and most importantly a rise in staff happiness. During a Happiness at Work survey, many staff members commented (without prompting!) on how their participation in the Go Green team had helped them feel more engaged at work. And, since increased happiness has shown to equate to increased productivity, I’d say there is no reason for companies not to get on board!