Are employers failing staff on helping reduce home energy costs?


Following yesterday’s government announcement to relax working from home guidance, millions of workers will be today discussing with their employer when they might return to the office.

But will they be discussing the impact of all this working from home on their rising energy bills? Probably not.

New research reveals businesses are not providing enough support or advice to employees on how to reduce energy costs.

Neither are they asking home workers how much energy they’re using and so cannot be accurately assessing and reporting the business’s overall carbon impact.

The survey, commissioned by carbon footprint experts and social enterprise Giki, polled over 1,100 employees from across the UK* and reveals only 1 in 10 have received advice or encouragement from their employer to reduce their heating bills.

A whopping 61% of employees have received absolutely no advice from their employer on how to take green and cost-saving actions such as reducing energy bills, reducing food waste, or using more sustainable modes of travel.

Only 23% of those who have worked from home in the past year have been asked how much energy they use or how much they spend on energy at home by their employer.

This raises the question how businesses – particularly larger ones with many staff now working from home much more regularly – can measure the full environmental impact of their organisation if they’re not asking staff about their energy use?

The combined personal carbon footprint of staff can be ten times greater than the operational footprint of the company so engaging staff to reduce their personal carbon footprint will greatly help companies achieve their sustainability goals.

It will also help staff save money which will be welcomed by many.

Employers are “more talk than action” on green issues

The survey also revealed companies appear to be falling behind on their environmental promises. Less than a quarter (24%) of UK workers think their employer is doing a good job in helping to reduce the organisation’s impact on the environment.

In fact, 23% who work for an organisation that claims to be environmentally friendly, green or sustainable in its marketing/advertising, say that they have not received any support from the organisation to be environmentally friendly.

18% stated their employer was “more talk than action” on green issues – this was almost a third (32%) for 16-24-year-olds.

Comments from survey respondents included:

  • “Well, verbally, their intentions sound good, but I’m not actually aware of any improvements or changes.”
  • “They like to tell the staff what they are going to change yet they don’t actually go through with it.”
  • “My employer pays lip service to change, but doesn’t effect change.”
  • “They will talk about things we should do. Eg use recycled bottles, eat less meat, fly less often, but they don’t encourage this type of behaviour. It isn’t properly enforced.”
  • “They talk about these issues but I’ve not seen anything actually implemented.”

Jo Hand Co-founder of Giki said: “We’re really surprised by how few employees are being asked about their energy use, particularly as so many people are yet again working from home. It may be that this hasn’t even occurred to many business leaders, but it really should be on their radar.

Now more than ever, businesses have a role to play in providing advice and support to staff to reduce their own energy bills both on an environmental and a staff welfare level. We’re seeing first hand that it can be team building and very motivating when staff come together to tackle an environmental issue collectively. There’s also an argument that some companies should even contribute towards the energy bills of those working from home.”

Giki Zero Pro is the first sustainability programme for cutting carbon that supports companies who want to engage staff on ESG issues and measure the impact of their actions. Giki’s clients include NatWest Group, Deloitte and Open University amongst others.

Giki energy saving checklist:

Getting started on addressing these issues can be as simple as sending out a company-wide email with the following advice:

  • Only heat the rooms you need
  • Turn PCs and laptops off when you’ve finished work
  • Turn the lights off in rooms you’re not using
  • Wear suitable clothing (layer up in winter)
  • Draught proof windows
  • Close doors
  • Close curtains to retain heat when dark
  • Only boil the water you need

Developed by British couple Jo and James Hand, Giki takes the jargon out of sustainability and provides easy to follow, scientific guidance on significantly reducing carbon.

This includes easy-to-use carbon calculators for individuals and businesses to measure their outputs and reduction progress and uses gaming techniques to engage staff in reaching company sustainability goals in fun and easily trackable ways.

Giki is recommended by the UN COP26 Climate Champions and works with amazing specialists and experts from the academic, scientific, education, and business communities.

*The polling of 1,164 employed individuals aged 16+, of a nationally representative UK sample, was carried out by Censuswide between 10th and 12th January 2022.
Martin is a journalist and PR executive of Commercial Waste Magazine. He has worked in the commercial waste and recycling industry for over a decade and is dedicated to raising public awareness in the amount of recyclable waste being sent to landfill every year.

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