New report reveals surge in employee engagement on energy issues

EXCLUSIVE: The UK's declaration of a climate emergency combined with the recent climate strikes and protests has fuelled a surge in awareness of energy issues among employees across the country, according to the latest Business Energy Barometer conducted by edie.

Released this week, the Barometer reveals that 70% of business energy managers believe their employees are more engaged with energy than they were 12 months ago – with several respondents citing the growing national awareness of climate change to be a key catalyst for this.

In fact, only 2.5% of respondents said their employees have become less engaged with energy issues, with the remaining 27.5% claiming there has been no change in the levels of engagement.

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“In 2018, we witnessed how Blue Planet 2 and the so-called ‘Attenborough effect’ drove awareness of plastics pollution virtually overnight,” commented edie’s Insight Editor James Evison. “This year has been all about the ‘Greta effect’ and awareness of the business-critical issue of climate change – the recent surge in employee engagement around key energy issues is testament to that.

“Energy managers and practitioners have a huge opportunity to harness this momentum and drive long-term behaviour change in 2020 through new technologies and innovative approaches.”

Challenges

Developed in association with Centrica Business Solutions, the latest quarterly edition of the Business Energy Barometer is based on an extensive survey of 49 members of edie’s Energy Leaders Club – a community of senior energy managers and practitioners working for large organisations across the UK.

Despite respondents seeing a rise in employee engagement on energy, the Barometer also reveals behaviour change/engagement to be the biggest challenge for business energy in 2020 – cited by 40% of respondents, which put it at the top of the list of challenges ahead of funding/access to finance (37.5%) and energy/environment policy (25%) in the list of challenges. This marks the third quarter in a row that behaviour change/engagement has topped the list of business energy challenges.

When asked which audience represented the biggest behaviour change challenge, 45% of respondents cited employees. Of those respondents, 72% claimed that the primary reason for this employee behaviour change challenge was conflicting/competing priorities within the business.

Opportunities

So, what are the potential solutions to this challenge? When asked what they believe to be the biggest strategic opportunity to drive behaviour change within business in 2020 and beyond, the most popular answer was “effective communications to raise awareness and prompt action” – selected by 47.5% of respondents. Next on the list of opportunities, “the appointment of energy champions within the business” and “real-time energy data management” were each cited by 22.5% of Barometer respondents.

One anonymous Barometer respondent who works for a large facilities management firm said: “We have worked hard at internal energy awareness training and encourage energy champions... This is not an overnight thing, but we can see that slowly everyone in the company can see that energy management is here for the long-term and gradually more and more people are getting behind the group effort.”

Commenting on the Barometer results, Centrica Business Solutions Director Ian Hopkins said: “Businesses are under pressure to minimise business energy costs, cut carbon emissions and improve resilience, so it comes as no surprise that 90% of large company CEOs are engaging with energy efficiency

“Although reducing consumption and behaviour change are the foundations of  any energy strategy, we mustn't forget that this is just the starting point in the sustainability journey.”

The latest edition of edie’s Business Energy Barometer also includes a focus on the impact of the Government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Brexit, and the rise of ‘smart’ technologies.

edie staff



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