Companies that have implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) will be aware that stakeholder engagement is an important element. Customers and suppliers are often thought of as the key stakeholders, but employees are just as important in contributing to the company’s strategy and driving it through.
Alfa’s associate Anya Ledwith of ESHCON, who has been consulting on sustainability for 20 years, says “it is important to motivate and engage staff so that the company delivers its objectives. Staff engagement increases the likelihood of success.”
An organisation’s EMS manager is unlikely to have full knowledge of all the processes in the company, which means that two-way communication with a wide range of staff is essential. As a result, the new version of ISO 14001 (an EMS accreditation) includes the requirement to incorporate a stakeholder-focused communication strategy within the EMS. The first step is to identify the “interested parties” and plan how you will communicate with them. In the case of employees, this could be through posters, newsletters, or supported campaigns such as an “energy savings week”. Workshops are the best way to include staff in developing and delivering an environmental strategy so that they understand its importance and contribute ideas. Organisations that are already ISO 14001 accredited now have two years to transition their existing EMS and certify to the new standard, ISO 14001:2015.
The implementation of an EMS has benefits for a wide range of companies, whether that be with the aim of gaining a formal accreditation or to start with a simpler strategy that can be built upon over time. Having a plan in place ensures that resource efficiency is taken seriously and that compliance requirements are met, as well as demonstrating a company’s environmental credentials to its customers. Many companies now have a Green Steering Group in place and are establishing schemes that recognise staff achievements, such as rewarding green champions who deliver reductions in energy, waste, water, and emissions.
Running a workshop with a range of staff throughout the company is the best way to get started. Look at energy, waste, and water as a starting point. Anya concludes “Get your staff involved so they help with solutions – make it fun and engaging. Let the ideas roll in.”
Written By – Nikki Wilson