Helping companies achieve their sustainable energy objectives

Engaging with your workforce and value chain partners to improve energy efficiency

Engaging with your workforce and value chain partners so that they use energy and fuel efficiently is often the best measure to adopt as it provides the highest impact and fastest return. From the way products, services, facilities and assets are designed to the way they are operated and maintained, engaging with workforces across the value chain has the potential to deliver significant energy efficiency improvements. Leading companies should work together to understand how best to encourage the adoption of more energy-efficient behaviors and working practices.

Examples of engagement with your workforce and value chain partners to improve energy efficiency

  • Energy management training programs for suppliers or customers;
  • Training on energy management policies and procedures for suppliers that can have a direct impact on your company’s energy use, for example facilities management contractors or information technology (IT) providers; training that explains the specific actions that suppliers can take and the associated impact on energy consumption will help to translate general learnings into practical examples;
  • Workshops with suppliers or customers to reduce energy waste in the value chain or energy supplies from non-renewable sources;
  • Communications campaigns on energy efficiency that involve suppliers or customers to showcase energy efficiency technologies and explain the energy saving actions that the workforce can take;
  • A company reports to its customers on the energy that is used to produce a product or provide a service so that customers understand current levels of energy use, can adjust their activities accordingly and potentially provide feedback to their supplier;
  • Clear accountability and responsibility of the people involved so they know what the company expects and how they will be contributing to energy efficiency outcomes;
  • Collaboration with suppliers and customers to help benchmark current energy management processes and practices, identifying opportunities for improvement.

Building blocks for success

When working cross-functionally internally and across the value chain to encourage more energy-efficient behaviors and decision-making, you should put in place the following buildings blocks for success.


Buy-in and visible support from senior leaders from your company and your supply chain and customers will be vital to delivering successful engagement in energy efficiency initiatives. Encouraging leaders to communicate the business, environmental and societal benefits of energy efficiency initiatives will help others to understand their importance.


Shared values and energy efficiency goals across the value chain will enable people to work effectively together and will improve motivation. Being clear on the benefits of activities will establish a common understanding of their purpose and the desired impact.


Identification and prioritization of the stakeholder groups that have the highest potential to change their behavior to ensure more-efficient energy use across the value chain will accelerate progress.


Providing training and resources on energy saving behavior and efficiency measures will enhance knowledge, skills and abilities across the value chain and increase the adoption of the desired behaviors that lead to energy efficiency improvements.


Reporting on successes will enable you to recognize the contributions of individuals, teams and value chain partners to energy efficiency goals. Two-way communication and feedback that is personal and timely will help to build trust and inspire further action. Regular feedback will help focus efforts on those engagement initiatives that have the potential to be the most successful and will highlight areas of weakness.

Barriers to success

Overcoming the typical barriers to effectively engaging with your workforce and supply chain partners on energy efficiency will be vital to the success of an integrated energy strategy.


When designing activities intended to lead to behavior change, a failure to adequately engage with the individuals whose behavior you aim to change can often lead to resistance. This can be a result of a lack of understanding of why it is necessary to change or a lack of trust that the proposed solutions will have the desired effect. If those leading engagement initiatives do not have the trust or respect of people they’re working with, those people will not accept and act on any recommendations. This barrier can become more significant when companies collaborate on activities, as it is often more challenging to establish credibility across value chain partners.


Failing to continue to train and engage with the workforce will mean that performance deteriorates over time. This is particularly relevant for companies with high staff turnover. Regular training will help maintain energy management standards in the company. Equally, a lack of technological knowledge can keep people from taking appropriate actions. Again, regular training can overcome this barrier.


Social norms influence people’s behavior and can prevent them from adopting working practices that
will save energy. Similarly, existing habits are often a barrier that prevents the intention to save energy from turning into action. Breaking habits is challenging but using social norms to encourage energy-efficient behaviors, for example by explaining normal and unusual energy consumption patterns, can overcome this challenge.


Inconsistent communication or conflicting messages can cause misunderstandings. Consistently communicating the most impactful actions that will improve energy efficiency will help to improve focus and maintain momentum.


Insufficient measurement or access to data will prevent accurate and timely reporting to those stakeholder groups whose behavior you are trying to change. The failure to provide feedback on the actions that are having positive or negative impacts on energy efficiency is likely to prevent these stakeholders from achieving energy efficiency goals. Data is also necessary to help make the business case for further investment in engagement initiatives by demonstrating the cost savings and return on investment achieved.

The benefits of working collaboratively with upstream and downstream stakeholders

Collaborating with companies in the value chain will help in finding common solutions to poor energy management practices and behaviors that waste energy;
Creating a common language and shared principles for improving energy efficiency with key suppliers and customers will accelerate knowledge transfer and will make the scaling of successful solutions easier;
Replicating similar activities and initiatives (such as energy efficiency events and campaigns, or tools and training platforms to improve energy management capabilities) will improve relationships and reduce the resources required to deliver initiatives by preventing the duplication of work;
Scaling up successful solutions will multiply their impact and generate greater financial, environmental and reputational benefits across the value chain;
By participating collectively, companies can show customers, regulators and shareholders the extent of their commitment to improving their energy performance.

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