How to engage staff

Staff buy in essential

Your staff can play a big part in reducing your business’s electricity usage. Because of their familiarity with your business, they often have the best ideas on how to save electricity – which means it’s not just nice to have the support of your employees, it’s essential.

Enthusiastic employees, who look out for electricity waste and proactively save electricity, can help deliver savings to your bottom line. Everyday actions, such as switching off equipment at the end of the working day, can have a big impact on your electricity use – and won’t cost you anything.

Potential savings

In many organisations there is enormous potential to save electricity without cost by raising the awareness and motivation levels of staff who are end users of electricity.

Timing is important

Avoid times when the organisation is really busy or when staff may be unresponsive. Avoid holiday periods as it's important to reach all staff.

How long should it run?

The longer the campaign runs, the better embedded the message will become in people’s minds – but ensure the campaign does not become stale.

Assign roles and responsibilities

You will need other people to help you. Assign roles and responsibilities carefully. If you assemble an ‘Energy Team’ it should include a good cross section of staff. The better the mix of team members, the more likely it is that all their colleagues will respond positively. Your energy awareness campaign will need champions – people to spread the word and inspire others. Consider how many would be appropriate – perhaps a champion for each department, building or floor.

Select relevant motivational themes

In cold weather, focus on heating messages; in hot weather, highlight cooling. For the rest of the time, consider messages which deal with lighting or equipment.

People will respond to different reasons for saving electricity. It also depends on their position and how long they have been with the organisation. It might also be important to consider the kind of person they are, and the things they respond to outside of work. Some staff might be motivated by the business benefits, while other staff are more likely to respond to something which will benefit them directly, such as reinvesting savings to improve facilities, like the kitchen or common room.

Employees are also often more likely to be motivated to save electricity to help save the environment rather than to save their employer money. It is interesting to note that many hotels are now putting signs on the back of hotel doors saying: "Please help to conserve the earth's finite energy resources by switching off all lights and equipment when you leave your room". The sign could have read: "Please help to improve the profits of this hotel by switching off...", but which is more motivating?

Recognition and reward of achievement

In some situations, financial incentives for teams or individuals can help motivate staff. The desire to help the needy in society is also a well-known trigger. Some organisations monitor savings achieved by no-cost measures and donate a portion of the savings to a charity nominated by employees. People get motivated about saving something for others. One of the benefits of this approach is that a team effort is required to achieve significant savings. One individual working in isolation will not make it happen. It also avoids the problem of giving cash rewards to individuals, as this can be divisive.

Competitions are also an excellent way of getting staff to participate in saving electricity. Create competitions between teams, departments or buildings to see who can save the most electricity.

A simple way of finding out what would motivate staff to save electricity is to ask them. It is easy to guess (often wrongly) or to assume that what would motivate you would motivate them. The questioning can be done informally, using 'management by wandering about' methods and informal discussion. Or it can be done more formally and anonymously by means of surveys and questionnaires.

Report to staff and management

Progress reports can also be a powerful motivator. Think about what staff are interested in and report their successes accordingly. For example, if your staff are motivated by environmental issues, relate progress in these terms.

If you are running competitions, reveal who is leading or who has won. If staff members are aiming towards direct incentives let them know how close they are to the goal. Create easy-to-understand diagrams or graphs to show progress. A chart or information board in reception or a foyer is a sure way to keep everyone aware and informed.


Messages in emails, minutes, or other standard internal communications are important. Adding electricity saving messages to pay slips is a good way of attracting attention. Add information to your intranet and newsletters to show people how they can save electricity. Displaying posters and stickers are great everyday reminders. Suggestion schemes provide a way for people to suggest energy saving ideas and offer rewards. You can also invite experts to talk about energy saving and environmental issues.

Walk arounds

A simple walk around your premises can help you to demonstrate where electricity savings can be made, for example by closing windows or activating the power saving facility on a computer. Make sure you affirm good practice and note where electricity is being wasted. Conduct walk arounds at regular intervals; say, twice a month and at different times of the day.