Reducing Your Environmental Impact

By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | November 19, 2010

Over the last few years we have seen a significant increase in awareness and concern regarding the environmental impact of business. It is impossible to pick up a newspaper or magazine, or watch television, without being reminded of global warming. We are bombarded with data regarding climate change, green-house emissions and pollution, and a heated scientific debate rages in public regarding the future impact of our current lifestyle and activities What everyone can agree on is that protecting our environment for future generations is our responsibility.

Every business has a social responsibility to consider its environmental impact, and take reasonable steps to mitigate it. As part of the wider travel industry, hoteliers need to be even more sensitive to their role in this area, and ensure that they take the lead in reducing their environmental impact. The current economic climate may deter some from focusing on this area, under the misconception it will be expensive, or that it is not of core importance to their business. In fact the majority of initiatives will actually reduce costs through consumption savings, so the challenging trading conditions we all face should provide a stimulus to launch environmental plans rather than a deterrent.

Throughout this article I have also deliberately focused on low-cost initiatives that can be easily implemented - in fact a lot of the steps are common-sense, which simply require focus to deliver. It is also important to remember that customers - both large business clients and individual guests - are increasingly expecting a proactive environmental policy as standard. To be able to demonstrate this is important in retaining your position and competitive advantage. Can you afford not to offer this? In this article I have therefore highlighted a number of simple steps we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint, providing tangible environmental benefits without the need for costly developments or radical changes in how we run our businesses. Encourage and empower your team

The first key step in implementing an effective environmental policy is to win the hearts and minds of all team-members to the significance of reducing your environmental impact. Employees can have the most immediate impact, via simple changes in their behaviour - imagine the reduction in energy consumption if several thousand employees focus on simple steps such as turning off lights and equipment on standby when not required - and equally without their buy-in any initiatives will have limited success. At Guoman Hotels we have empowered our teams to drive environmentally-friendly schemes in their hotels, with a Green Committee sitting every month, whilst each General Manager has environmental targets to aim for. We have also introduced internal awards to recognise contributions from our team members. Any team member can make suggestions to reduce our environmental impact, which are then reviewed by the Green Committee, with the relevant team-member recognised for all ideas that are implemented. We also run a competition for Green Champion of the Year, and Green Team of the year, to encourage healthy competition between the hotels in our group and maintain interest. Identify your targets

Having ensured team participation, the next step is to identify the areas to target with environmental initiatives. At Guoman Hotels we identified the following key areas:

  • Recycling

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Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.