Top 3 sustainability challenges for retailers… and how to tackle them
Article written by Haydn Young, CEO
Effective energy management for retailers – the three key challenges in energy efficiency and ways in which these can be overcome.
1) Multiple sites
With high volume of sites consuming relatively low energy (in comparison to production based companies) the challenge is to engage staff and importantly find the right people to engage.
Energy Teams need ‘connectors’ within them and to help them. Connectors are people of influence, not seniority, who can sell a message to others in the organisation. They are often-long standing employees, well respected by others. They may know many people or have a position of respect such as a Employee Representative, Company Charity Organiser or Union Rep. They do not have to be passionate environmentalists but are happy to support something over which they have influence.
2) Cultural ‘myths’
Every industry suffers challenges where good intentions may challenge an embedded myth in a business.
Every organisation has its operational myths and many reasons for not saving energy derive from them. These myths evolve to become rules that to break, could be potentially career limiting. For example, in order to make sales, retail outlets need the customer to see the products clearly. So, retail stores may have the lights on during a bright and sunny day because they fear sales might fall if they turn them off! At what light level are sales inhibited by poor lighting?
These myths exist and need to be tackled head on.
3) Staff engagement
With so many staff in so many locations and many on varied contracts how can all be engaged to support your activity.
Successful energy conservation projects start with a compelling message. It has to be more than just ‘saving money’ or ‘reducing carbon’, which will have little appeal and make everyone feel guilty. Consider something inspirational to generate a level of excitement to your cause like ISO 14001, Green Policy commitment to your customers or high league table ranking for your Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). What is key is that the compelling message explains the positive ambitions of the organisation and enables employees to see “what’s in it for them”.
Find out more
There’s a range of behaviour and communication techniques we use in GAIA to create a journey towards a lean, low carbon business. To understand about what these are and how to action them you can request a copy of our free handbook: sustainability in the workplace 20 ideas to make it happen.