Lack of workplace responsibility threatens energy saving for Britain's small businesses

  • Only one in 10 employees acknowledge workplace energy efficiency as their role
  • CEOs accept most personal responsibility for energy saving, but take least action
  • More than half of SMEs have no guidelines on energy efficiency

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are missing out on crucial savings because owners and their staff are not taking responsibility for energy efficiency in the workplace, according to new research1 out today from energy company E.ON.

In the study on workplace habits, just one in ten workers acknowledged energy efficiency as their role, with the results revealing that employees frequent "pass the buck" when it comes to taking responsibility for saving energy at work: many junior executives believed it was the role of the office manager, while many office managers said it was the responsibility of the owner or more senior managers.

Owners or chief executives accepted most responsibility overall, with 22 per cent accepting it was their role to ensure the office was energy efficient. But many bosses are failing to set an example, with a quarter (24 per cent) admitting they rarely think about the issue, and a further one in 10 (11 per cent) taking no measures at all to be more energy efficient.

Only 28 per cent think regularly about energy efficiency at work, compared to 55 per cent when at home. The E.ON study suggests a lack of communication is playing a decisive role in this, with nearly two thirds (57 per cent) of employees receiving no clear company guidelines about energy efficiency.

Iain Walker, Head of Business Sales at E.ON, said: "We appreciate it's often difficult to dedicate time to educating the workforce about energy saving, but the benefits of implementing better practice can be significant and directly beneficial to all employers.

"You'll always get some people who are more active than others but I was quite surprised that the overall number of people taking personal responsibility for saving energy, and for passing on help to colleagues, is still relatively low."

Crucially, company chief executives were also the least active in communication, with half of the bosses questioned (51 per cent) saying they never spoke to staff about energy saving. HR employees were the most active in raising awareness with around a quarter (22 per cent) speaking frequently with colleagues about energy wastage.

Iain added: "I think responsibility for reducing waste should start at the top, with bosses and senior managers passing the message to all employees.

"We recognise leadership is needed, which is why we are calling on key decision makers within the workplace to seek advice and information on the topic, such as the potential for financial savings and simple measures that can be introduced to reduce waste.

"With this in mind, we're rolling out nationally accredited energy saving training to all our 4,000 front-line colleagues who will be able to give specialist energy advice. Whichever way a customer comes to see us, they can be assured there's no one better placed than E.ON to help their business to save energy."

As part of its campaign to raise greater awareness E.ON offers a range of advice tailored to small businesses, which can help SME staff to manage responsibilities and achieve a greater standard of efficiency across the workplace.

Businesses that take E.ON's Business EnergyManager2 receive fixed prices and a free energy monitor, with downloadable software, to help them understand the amount of electricity they consume, to cut bills and to save energy. 

E.ON offers a wide range of tariffs that benefit customers at different times of day, such as off-peak and weekend rates.  By using Business EnergyManager, and fully understanding their consumption patterns, businesses can choose the correct tariff for their needs and make significant steps towards achieving their energy fitness goals.

Business customers can also download E.ON's App to help manage their account on the go. For more information, businesses should call 0800 046 2664 or visit eonenergy.com/energymanager



Notes to editors:

1 Independent research carried out amongst 2,000 professionals at UK small-to-medium sized enterprises, in July 2012



  • 1. CEO/Owner

‘Energy culprits' - Least

  • 2. Administration

active SME staff based

  • 3. Line Manager

on highest proportion

  • 4. Junior executive

taking zero action on

  • 5. HR

energy efficiency:

  • 6. Office manager


  • 7. Senior manager




Role at company

Role seen as responsible



Office manager

‘Passing the Buck' -



perceptions on energy

Office manager

Office manager

responsibility amongst

Junior executive

Office manager

SME staff

Line manager

Senior manager


Senior manager

Senior manager





2 Business EnergyManager is available to any business with a meter profile class 03-04 signing up for a Fixed Price Business Electricity Plans and paying by Direct Debit.  Product availability is subject to a credit check.

  • E.ON is one of the UK's leading power and gas companies - generating electricity, retailing power and gas, developing gas storage and undertaking gas and oil exploration and production. It is part of the E.ON group, one of the world's largest investor-owned power and gas companies. E.ON employs around 12,000 people in the UK and more than 79,000 worldwide;
  • In the UK, E.ON supplies power and gas to around five million domestic, small and medium-sized enterprise and industrial customers - meaning the company has to buy approximately 122.7 billion kWh of power and gas each year to meet their needs. E.ON also offers innovative energy services and technologies tailored to meet its customers' needs, and is helping customers become energy fit by encouraging them to insulate their homes, moderate their energy usage and even generate their own power;
  • E.ON's Reset Review continues to identify and discuss changes with customers through its 28,000-strong YourSay panel, its independent Customer Council, its 1,000-strong MySay employee panel and through discussions with consumer advocacy groups such as Which? and Consumer Focus. Changes made to date include: Helping customers control their bills: Fair prices, simple products, transparent profits, A fairer way of paying: Providing stability to help households budget, Improving customer service: Consistency, easier contact, the confidence to complain;
  • E.ON's generation portfolio includes world-class gas-, coal- and oil-fired power stations. E.ON is a market leader in combined heat and power (CHP), and is one of the UK's leading green generators with 20 wind farms and the UK's first wave power generator, with another 1,500MW of renewable capacity under development;
  • One of the many ways E.ON leads the energy industry is through its commitment to market liquidity and transparency as evidenced by its actions on the day-ahead UK power markets including the N2EX auction. E.ON was the first company to sign a gross-bidding agreement with N2EX and leads the market with a volume equivalent to some 60% of E.ON UK's generation activity being traded so far this year.


For more information contact:

Paul McCormick on 0207 009 3107 or e.on@3-monkeys.co.uk or Andrew Barrow on 02476 183677 or andrew.barrow@eon-uk.com

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