It's understandable that senior staff want to put the the hard days of the downturn behind them - and in a week when the British Chamber of Commerce predicted that the economy will soon exceed its pre-recession growth peak, why shouldn't they?
But as British business claws itself back to health, the fresh opportunities that come out of recovery will be realised fastest by those smart enough to remember the sensible spending practices that got them through the toughest days of austerity.
This week, as reports of economic recovery start to boost confidence across the workplace, we've dug into our world-class toolkits for leaders and managers to offer up five good habits for managers tips, that most L&D professionals want to communicate to senior staff as the business mindset gets more positive.
1. Reduce consumption
Image credit: Flickr user Paul Cross
First of all there are those things that your team, department or organisation actively consumes. Of these, one of the greatest areas of cost, and therefore of potential savings, is energy. With energy prices likely to continue to rise for the foreseeable future, even a few simple steps can help you to cut consumption at work. For example:
• Turn off the lights when you leave a room, and make sure they are switched off at the end of every day.
• Switch off equipment that’s not in use. That includes encouraging your team to power down their PCs at lunchtime, end of day and weekends, if at all possible, and ensuring that phone and laptop chargers aren’t constantly left switched on.
• Take a temperature check. Heating and air conditioning are power-hungry. In winter, keep doors closed to keep the heat in (provided it doesn’t get too stuffy) and turn radiators down in little-used rooms. In summer, open windows to let the air circulate to reduce the work your air conditioning needs to do.
• Invest in an energy efficient kettle. They tend to boil faster and use less energy - a win-win situation on the cuppa front.
Depending on your business type, paper consumption can be another significant cost. With so many alternatives to printed material, from email to document scanning and online publishing tools, there is more reason than ever to go paperless. If you and your team do need to print then:
• print double-sided if you have a printer that lets you do this
• use recycled paper - while this isn’t necessarily cheaper for your organisation, it is less costly to the environment
2. Monitor your carbon footprint
Business travel can also be costly, particularly if your team is largely client-facing. It also has a significant impact on the environment. The good news is there are now plenty of technology-based alternatives to the face-to-face meeting. These include video and teleconferencing and cheap or even free web-based meeting tools such as Skype and WebEx. Before setting up meetings with clients or suppliers, ask yourself whether a face-to-face meeting is entirely necessary or appropriate. When you or your team members do have to travel, think smart and plan ahead. Consider, for example:
• Are there any other clients/suppliers nearby you could visit as part of the trip?
• Could you send one member of your team to the meeting instead of two?
• Which method of travel is most time and cost effective, and likely to have the least environmental impact?
3. Re-use and recycle whatever you can
All businesses have a duty of care to dispose responsibly of the waste they generate, which includes considering alternatives to disposal such as re-use or recycling.
Simple things like re-using padded envelopes, packaging and boxes can help reduce waste, and save some of your hard earned budget. Also, find out if there is a further use for any of your unwanted goods, from IT equipment to office furniture. The chances are that there is a charity or business start-up in your local area who might not only benefit, but will save you time, money and hassle by collecting them from you.
If you are upgrading your PCs, you might even consider offering the old ones on a first-come, first-served basis to staff, for a nominal charge. It goes without saying of course that if you are passing phones or IT equipment on to anyone, they should be cleaned of all data first.
Make it easy for employees to recycle paper and packaging by having plenty of recycling boxes or bins around the office, and arrange to recycle printer cartridges and even electrical equipment that you aren’t passing on. If practical, also encourage employees to recycle their food and drink waste such as bags, cans and plastic bottles.
More information on recycling at work is available from WRAP.
4. Additional ways to minimise waste
Of course waste isn’t just a ‘green issue’. If your team isn’t working as efficiently and effectively as possible, then this can diminish overall productivity and, crucially, profitability.
Key areas to consider include:
Human resources - people are your most valuable, and often most costly, asset. Are you making the most of them? Important questions to ask yourself are:
• Do my team members have the right tools and resources to enable them to be as efficient and effective as possible?
• Are we offering sufficient, appropriate development, from induction onwards?
• Are roles and responsibilities clearly outlined, to optimise skillsets and avoid duplication of effort?
• Could flexible working be beneficial to both employees and the organisation in terms of work-life balance and productivity?
• Are the right systems in place, to ensure key information and expertise is retained?
Supplier contracts - from building factors and energy suppliers to mobile phone providers and IT support, it's important to review contractual agreements regularly to ensure you are getting best value for money.Check out what alternative suppliers can offer before entering into negotiations. Remember too, to look at alternative ways to cut costs, e.g. it may suit you better to negotiate a longer term on your contract rather than simply going on cost.
5. Ensure engagement
It goes without saying that in order to encourage your team members to minimise wasteful practices at work, you need to be a role model yourself. It also pays to clearly communicate your waste-busting initiatives. Posters or notices around the office, such as by the printer, or in kitchens or bathrooms, can encourage people to minimise consumption at point of use.
Remember that what gets measured gets done - so why not set some targets for you and your team, such as reducing paper consumption by 10% in the next six months, and see how you get on? Good luck!
The GoodPractice Toolkit for Leaders and Managers includes a wide selection of resources on Reducing Waste, including ‘Where Does Our Carbon Footprint Come From?’ and ‘Top Tips for a Greener Workplace’.