13 ways to painlessly improve profitability in 2013: Employees are key
By Jay Fiske

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Saving energy is a team sport. Itís not rocket science — itís as much about profitability as food and labor costs. Financial giant Deloitte conducted a recent survey and found that 60 percent of company CFOs questioned saw sustainability as a key driver of financial results. Just think about it — if you could cut energy use by 10 percent in your business, what would that do to your profits?

Have you included your employees in your energy-saving efforts?
  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

But thereís more, much more. Itís also about competitive advantage. Respected research firm Technomics recently found that a full 52 percent of consumers polled said they would visit sustainable restaurants more often than those who werenít committed to the cause. Now thatís a loyalty program that wonít cost you a cent.

Thereís no doubt conserving energy requires thought, a clear action plan and quantifiable goals, but youíre not alone in the effort. Your employees can be your most valuable players in this game, and it cannot be done without their buy-in. So how do you get that?
  1. Define sustainability and its value to your organization. Sustainability is a great buzzword, but what does it really mean? Definitions range from the highly philosophical to the highly practical. One that particularly resonates is the concept of resiliency and how companies can weather the challenges over time. It speaks to the business case and its importance to the financial health and longevity of the organization.

  2. Gather your team. Profitability requires everyone to pull together and so does energy conservation. Bring your most important asset — your employees — into the game. Put your own commitment behind it to brainstorm and collaborate on specific ways each member can contribute based on job function. Develop the plan together. Contribution builds buy-in.

  3. Set goals. Just as you regularly set sales projections and financial goals, include energy conservation in the mix, setting quantifiable and achievable goals. While employees canít affect the cost of electricity, they can reduce the amount used within their work area.

  4. Share the rewards. Energy conservation requires daily attention in order to keep everyone enthusiastically onboard, so make it part of your weekly meetings. Ask for new energy-saving ideas, share your progress and celebrate a job well done.

  5. Keep it fun. Your program will be infinitely more successful if you keep it positive. Applaud results, but donít make it yet one more performance measurement. Instead, brainstorm with your team about the kind of incentives that are most meaningful to them. Weíre not talking raises and bonuses — at least not at this point. Is it two tickets to the movies? A gift card? Tickets to a local amusement park? This one's all carrot and no stick.

  6. Sing it proudly. Customers care about sustainability, so leverage your energy-saving program to your competitive advantage. Consider how you can get your energy-saving message to them. Whether you use social media, your website, store signage or something else, make sure your message reaches your customers so they know you're doing your part.
See related stories: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Jay Fiske is vice president of business development for Powerhouse Dynamics, developers of the eMonitor energy, asset and water management platform for homes and small commercial facilities. Fiske is responsible for leading the companyís overall sales and marketing strategy, developing and growing market channels, and establishing strategic partnerships.