Guest Blog: Our people’s part in creating sustainable goals

A history of sustainability

The Sureserve Group of businesses has worked in people’s homes for over 30 years, installing and maintaining parts of their homes that ensure they’re warm, safe and able to live well in their communities. It’s safe to say we’ve always considered ourselves and our businesses a part of those communities too, after all we live there as well, use the infrastructure and services, and enjoy too many other benefits to list. Over the years we’ve developed our operations apace with our clients’ expectations, and the social value of our presence in those communities has become something that’s central to the way we work. Even though it’s often a compulsory part of a contract, I think we have a lot of really incredible people, at all levels, who are always looking for the extra opportunity to do something special, to improve, to create. That’s where we’ve seen sustainability becoming a part of our culture and not just something that everyone knows is required.

Rooting sustainable aims in our peoples experiences

For the first time in a number of years, we undertook an employee survey in late 2020, collecting results specific to each of our businesses as well as Group-wide. The Board was keen to both take stock of our workforce’s experiences following the first eight months of operational challenges relating to Covid-19, as well as understand what the business’ performance looked like across a range of areas. Myself and the other members of the Board understood the importance of listening, and then doing. One particularly strong set of responses from employees was how businesses were perceived as performing when it came to environmental and sustainable behaviours. We knew that our operations were delivered to good sustainable standards, we were accredited and compliant where we needed to be, but was this enough? We agreed that understanding the scope of possible improvements was essential, and with the participation of our Governance and Compliance Director and the Group Head of Responsible Business, we undertook an environmental audit for one of our businesses. At the same time we gave the go ahead for the first stage in a transition to Electric Vehicles for our fleet, replacing petrol or diesel equivalents.

Making sure knowledge informs action

Both the investments to the fleet and those to the office environment are no less than exciting first steps into something we know from our people (and the Leadership Team agrees) is important. It’s certainly reflective of a great many things happening parallel in the world, in our cities, and again, back to our communities. There was agreement that understanding the range of opportunities and what came next was the first step. Efficiencies in upgrading the fleet were clear, and we’ve now taken receipt of the first batch of EVs, with a range of new resources and systems to record the performance of those vehicles.

They’re commercial vehicles, so they need to stand up to the challenges of being on the road every day during working hours and sometimes outside them. We’re confident that that data will support us in making sure we can expand our use of EV vehicles, and to pass on the benefits of zero emissions to our people and our communities, after all zero emissions means better air quality and that’s an out and out win. The environmental audit of our office really made us appreciate the extent to which we can affect our sustainable performance.

The changes currently being undertaken include the following:

  • Fitting EV charge points in the carpark
  • Eliminating single use plastic within the office
  • Replace all office lighting with LED systems fitted with light sensors and dimmers
  • Solar panel installation
  • On-site battery storage
  • Switching to a greener energy supplier
  • Water usage reduction systems
  • 100% waste recycling

The results of these improvements will form part of a proof of concept to ultimately reduce the business and Group’s carbon footprint, expanding out to other offices and businesses and further delivering on our commitment to sustainability across our operations.

The road ahead

The effect of this work has been really remarkable. There’s an aspect of collaboration across all levels, knowing that the initial impetus lay in employee feedback, and now when we talk about having 100% recycling rate for waste material it’s a real source of pride. It’s creating a drive culturally, and it doesn’t stop when our people leave the office to go home at night, they take it with them to their communities and continue it.

We’re now undertaking a range of activities to create and support a long-term commitment to ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) improvements across the Group, and a large part of that is stakeholder engagement. We’re talking to our shareholders, clients, financial partners, and of course employees, to understand what matters to them and where the value lays in the years to come. It’s an exciting prospect and incredibly important that it continues to tie in to the very real benefits to our people, our communities and our environment.

Peter Smith is the Interim Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of our knowledge partner SureserveGroup

You can read more about Sureserve ESG delivery here.

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