Before you launch in to thinking about lighting, recycling and everything else that might need to be part of your approach to environmental management, there are three essential steps to take.
Step One. Make sure senior management are committed and engaged.
If you’re the boss or you’re a sole trader, then you’ve got this covered already. Otherwise, to get an effective approach to environmental management in place, senior management need to be behind it.
Some of the actions you want to take may cost money, which may need to be authorised by your managers. More importantly, senior management support will be important in conveying to all staff that environmental management is something that is important to the organisation and that they need to take account of it.
An important early task, therefore, will be ensuring that senior management are committed to environmental management and have communicated this to all employees.
This may not be straightforward. Some may need a little persuasion. If so, some of this material may be useful.
See if you can persuade them of the value of environmental management and, if possible, to communicate this to all employees, maybe via an email or in a meeting.
Which leads on nicely to step two.
Step Two. Make sure all employees are aware of and understand the role of environmental management
Studies have shown that small businesses that achieved higher levels of staff involvement in developing and implementing their environmental management system achieved the highest cost savings. Involving other staff helps to ensure that the approach is realistic, practical and adds value.
In addition, involving staff can improve their attitude towards working for the company. In one survey of small businesses with an environmental management system, all staff who were surveyed were more positive towards their companies since the environmental management system was implemented.
Before you start preparing your environmental management system, all staff should be made aware of what’s happening and why. A kick-off meeting is one way of achieving this or you could include it in any regular communications such as staff meetings, newsletters or email updates.
Other staff can also be a useful source of ideas and inspiration. Why not use an online survey of staff as part of your data collection process (Survey Monkey is a great, free tool that you could use for this). It might involve just two simple questions:
- From the business activities you are involved in, what environmental impacts are you aware of, either positive or negative?
- Do you have any ideas for ways in which we could manage these impacts better?
It would take staff a matter of minutes to complete such a survey but could generate an invaluable list of suggestions and ideas which you could use to complete your environmental management system.
Step three. Think about how you will communicate progress.
OK, so you have made other staff aware of the environmental management system and why it’s important. Having done that, it will also be important to think about how you can keep them interested and involved. After all, it’s likely that implementing many of the actions in the environmental management system will be reliant on them.
It will be important to let them know how things are progressing and gather feedback and ideas. Maybe there’s a regular staff meeting, at which the environmental management system could be a brief standing item on the agenda? Or it could just be a case of scheduling regular email communication with staff. It’s a good idea to make a plan for this at the outset to avoid the risk of it being neglected.
Getting these three steps ticked off first, will allow you to go ahead with the confidence that your environmental management system will be implemented successfully.