Energy Managers: The unsung heroes of the workplace?

When it comes to a business running smoothly, efficiently and comfortably, energy managers are some of the most important people in the office, yet their efforts often go unnoticed. Phil Gilbert, Director of Customer Solutions at E.ON, shares his advice for how those working in energy management can raise their profile and gain support and recognition for their work.

You think about energy and energy management all the time. If you’re reading this it’s probably a fundamental part of your role. But how often do you think your colleagues consider their personal energy consumption at work? Or how the business, as a whole, uses energy? Do they even know who makes the decisions about energy use in your workplace?

According to a recent survey by E.ON, the answer to that last question is often ‘no’. Not even half (49%)1 of employees could point to their energy manager when asked.
Furthermore, there is a general lack of consideration of energy management in the office.
Nearly twice as many people turn off unused appliances at the plug when at home (49%) than at work (27%). There’s a similar difference when it comes to the heating: more than twice as many people turn the thermostat down one degree to save energy at home (34%) compared to at work (15%). Furthermore, a quarter (25%) of people admit they do nothing to reduce their energy consumption at work compared to just one in 12 (9%) who do nothing at home.

There’s another clear discrepancy between the proportion of energy managers (92%) who believe colleagues could identify them as the decision-maker for energy and the number (49%) who actually can.

So what is behind such a sizeable discrepancy? After all, effective energy management can make a real difference to a business’s bottom line and to the environment. And far more importantly, what can energy managers do to harness the enthusiasm for energy saving that colleagues show at home?

Research provides some answers to the first question: Firstly, energy management is not a priority for employees. Only 4% believe it is important in keeping the business they work for operating effectively – compared to 37% who believe IT services are most important.

Secondly, your colleagues say they simply do not understand what the role involves and how energy is managed within their offices. An impressive 63% of energy managers have put a real-time energy monitoring system in place, yet only 11% of employees are aware of this.

So, what’s the solution? Firstly, it’s key that you accept that many of your colleagues don’t have the same interest in energy management in the workplace, that means it’s your job to be inventive and creative to communicate engagingly. And if you do manage to do that, your colleagues are likely to remember you and have positive associations with the work you do. So, how do you communicate the importance of energy management to your co-workers?

Here are some tips:

  • 1st Making a topic tangible is a brilliant way to make it more relevant to people. When you’re speaking to your colleagues about saving energy show them the pounds and pence savings – this also brings home how you’re helping the company save money
  • 2nd Most energy saving measures only save a tiny amount each time, but if 300 more people turn their computer off every day for a year, then it starts to become a big saving. Do remember to communicate exactly how it all adds up
  • 3rd Tap into behavioural science. Did you know little nudges such as putting a reminder above a light switch to turn it off can make a big difference? A recent study we conducted showed one office used these nudges to reduce their energy use by 26%. And it keeps energy management front of mind without your colleagues feeling they’re being bombarded
  • 4th If your co-workers have been making an effort to reduce their energy use, then do communicate and, most importantly, celebrate the results – it’s always nice to be congratulated
  • 5th Finally, keep banging the energy management drum. Most of your colleagues are likely to be pretty busy so may need regular reminders – just make sure not to spam them. These regular communications will also help to build your profile within the office.

Taking these steps in 2019 will not only help save your company money and contribute to making it greener, but you’ll also be raising your own profile and demonstrating how you’re contributing to the bottom line.