Behaviour change strategy and best practice seems to me to be one of those areas going through a buzz at the moment, very like the much talked about iPhone 8. The iPhone 8 will mark the 10th anniversary of Apple smartphones, and is due to be released later this year. It is rumoured to have a new look and some snazzy new features but still covers the same basics: camera, phone calls and messages (at least I hope so, it wouldn’t surprise me if one day a phone company forgot to add the call feature!).
I have seen a lot of articles lately about how to ensure the success of sustainability and energy saving employee schemes to help companies in their journey to cutting carbon and costs. Gone are the days of putting posters up and placing stickers next to light switches. Now we have real live energy display screens, social media videos and app-based training to encourage staff to take part.
However, based on my recent behaviour change work for LCMB clients, including Birmingham Airport, I can’t help but feel that what is at the heart of these initiatives hasn’t essentially changed: people, information and empowerment.
Firstly, there needs to be recognition that staff are at the centre of an organisation. Both senior, junior and ‘shop-floor’ employees need to be on-board and buy into the sustainability vision. They need to understand and realise how they play a role towards achieving those goals.
Secondly, the more information we give people about the impact their actions have on the business, its customers and the environment, the more likely they are to do something to change it. If they take action, we must let them know what the consequences are: praise when needed and recommendations if the results aren’t so positive.
Finally, and not always applied, staff need to have the tools to act on what we are asking them to do. There is no point telling somebody to switch air conditioning off if it is remotely controlled by a BMS system. Equally, if somebody has an idea around energy saving, we need to work with them to get it implemented and make sure they feel listened to.
Having worked in a number of different companies running behaviour change schemes, my impression is that despite all the snazzy new tools, modern packaging and marketing hype, these three items are still the foundation of behaviour change. And you don’t even have to queue outside an Apple Store for 12 hours to get them!