Picture this: You’ve finally scored a week away from work and decided to go camping. It’s dinner time and you’re hungry, but you forgot to bring a can opener. Now what?
Being the resourceful person you are, you might use your pocket knife to open the can and get access to the food inside.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, you know that it’s possible to get work done with the wrong tools — but it will take you much longer and the results won’t be as good. This whole situation can be avoided by making sure you have what you need in the first place.
Likewise, many of the problems organizations face when it comes to environmental management — non-conformances, fines, and even burnout and attrition — can be avoided by making sure their environmental team has the right tools for the job.
Low productivity, high turnover
Today more than ever, environmental managers face growing challenges that tax their capacity. Regulations are getting more complex and less certain. Companies are facing pressure from all sides to cut carbon emissions, reduce energy usage, and reduce waste. And these issues will only continue to grow in urgency as a new administration takes office.
To make matters worse, environmental teams are woefully understaffed. Many environmental managers are responsible for multiple sites, or else they hold the dual role of environmental and safety expert. There’s simply more work than time or personnel to do it.
And yet, some companies are still forcing their teams to “make do” with outdated tools like spreadsheets. This is more than an inconvenience. When employees try to perform tasks using the wrong tools that aren’t meant for this purpose, a job that should take a few minutes takes hours or weeks.
Take greenhouse gas reporting, for example. Air emissions data is extremely large and complex. If environmental teams need to manually compile all of the data, this will take up a lot of time and there’s a good chance they’ll make some mistakes.
What’s more, environmental managers can’t do clerical work and improve your sustainability performance at the same time. Administrative tasks like inputting data, correcting errors, and compiling reports have the lowest return on investment of any activity. Yet, organizations are forcing valuable environmental experts to spend half their day combing through errors in spreadsheets.
All of these factors create a perfect storm of stress and burnout. Can anyone be surprised that turnover is at an all-time high?
A costly mistake
Another consequence of using the wrong tools is that it costs you money. When people make mistakes, it costs your company money in fines and noncompliance. Worse, if it causes them to overlook a serious issue, that can lead to a costly accident. All of this can be prevented by giving your employees the right tools to manage proactively. Even if it requires an investment up front, it will save your company money in the long run.
Last but certainly not least, using the wrong tools makes you less competitive. It's no secret that sustainable companies enjoy better efficiencies, bigger profit margins, and higher market valuations.
To obtain those benefits, businesses will have to equip environmental teams with tools to manage their data and optimize performance. Doing so would create value across the enterprise. Environmental managers would be able to make informed decisions based on timely and accurate data. CEOs and CFOs would be able to better allocate resources to achieve their sustainability targets. Marketing teams would be able to give customers and shareholders access to comprehensive information about ESG performance.
Using spreadsheets to manage your environmental responsibilities may be familiar and safe, but it’s putting your organization at risk. The wrong tools hurt your team’s productivity and lead to costly mistakes. Furthermore, they undercut your efforts to remain competitive.
Take a step back and evaluate whether your environmental team has the right tools for the job. If not, now is the time to start looking for a better system. Today’s EHS software is affordable and can be implemented in a matter of weeks, meaning there’s no excuse not to make the switch.