Conventional wisdom tells us that the key to safer, more sustainable companies is a bigger EHS budget.
But that's not necessarily true.
Sure, more money means you can buy smart PPE or spend more hours with your consultant.
But the fundamental problem with this type of thinking is that many lower-funded EHS departments outperform their higher-funded counterparts.
Why? Because they focus on improvements -- and investments -- that help them become lean, efficient, and productive.
In this post, we'll show you 10 creative ways to stretch your EHS budget and make the most of the resources you already have:
1. Prioritize your spending
Let's face it: There's never enough money to accomplish everything. It's important to rank your needs (and wants) and allocate money for the most important ones first. Here's how your peers are prioritizing their budgets in 2018, according to research by Verdantix:
- 42% of EHS directors will increase spending on technology
- 35% percent will prioritize spending on worker safety, while 20% will prioritize investment in GHG emissions
- Safety and incident management top the list of EHS software spending plans, followed by reporting and analytics
2. Take a hard look at your existing systems
The way you're currently managing your EHS responsibilities could be costing you a lot of money. Outdated software, inefficient processes, and expensive consultants will consistently drain your budget. It's counterintuitive, but a total overhaul of your existing systems could save you money in the long run.
3. Use multi-functional tools
Not only is switching between different tools and databases inefficient, it's a waste of money. An integrated EHS software solution like Perillon can replace 4-5 different tools that each charge an annual or per-user fee.
4. Stop duplicating work
Manually entering data in multiple spreadsheets or databases is a huge time-suck. By moving your data to a centralized system, you can work smarter and avoid data entry errors.
5. Free up your staff for high-value tasks
How much time does your team waste on admin tasks like scanning paper records, emailing spreadsheets, and manually entering data? If you're like most teams, you probably don't even want to think about it. The right software tools can eliminate these time-wasters and free up your team for high-value tasks.
6. Cut travel and use mobile apps instead
Nearly every company has embraced the power of virtual meetings tools to cut back on travel. Why not use the power of mobile apps to cut back on EHS-related travel, too? With mobile apps, on-site employees can complete audits and inspections rather than sending someone across the country to do it.
7. Rely less on consultants (and use them more efficiently)
Only 29% of EHS directors plan to increase spending on consulting, versus 42% who will ramp up investment in technology. While software can't replace a skilled EHS consultant, it can help you and your consultant spend less time performing administrative tasks and wrangling data, so that you can both focus on what you do best.
8. Engage more employees in EHS activities
No matter how efficient you are, there are only so many hours in a day. Especially if you have a small core EHS team, you're going to need some help.
One way to "make your team bigger" is to enlist the help of employees outside your department. For example, mobile apps and kiosks enable employees to report unsafe work behaviors and near misses when and where they happen.
9. Use "modular" software
Many companies get fooled into thinking they need all the bells and whistles. In reality, you end up paying for lots of features you don't use. Instead, look for software that can be rolled out in individual modules to scale with your needs.
10. Take credit for saving your company money
One way to fend off future budget cuts? Show your financial department that you've implemented cost-cutting measures (like the ones above!) to run a lean department. Check out this article for more ways to demonstrate the business value of your EHS activities.
It doesn't matter if you work for a small company or a large enterprise -- EHS budgets are always tight. However, a small budget doesn't mean you have to skimp on safety or environmental efforts. By focusing on measures that help you become lean, efficient, and productive, you can get more mileage out of your budget.