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Chapter 5: Implementing the Action Plan

Provided by the International Finance Corporation

Training Staff

Communicating EMS information

Setting a Budget

Training Staff

Training is an essential and cost-saving investment for the company to ensure all personnel are aware of EMS benefits, objectives, procedures and targets.  Training also enhances team work, improving personal relationships and encouraging collaboration to find solutions.  Importantly, training helps employees feel that they have been recognized, motivating their performance and stimulating their thinking.

Staff training significantly and immediately improves staff competency and quality of service. Well-trained staff can better understand how to perform in a focused manner with available resources.

Management should encourage staff participation in implementing its EMS, since employees have practical experience related to their areas and can be a great source of information. They can assist the environmental task group in duties such as drafting procedures, and creating preventive and emergency plans.

Selecting Staff for Training

There are different types of training and requirements, and it is important that the environmental task group identifies the staff's training needs. Companies (SMEs) benefit by training a wide range of participants because every employee can provide ideas and contribute to the implementation of EMS.

The following table suggests audiences for various types of training.

Focus of training

Who should attend


Raising awareness of the strategic importance of EMS implementation

Top Management

Gain commitment and alignment to EMS implementation

Raising general environmental awareness

All employees

Gain commitment to the EMS objectives and targets

Develop a sense of individual responsibility

Skills enhancement

Employees with environmental responsibilities

Improve performance in specific areas, such as the environmental task group, action team and assessment team


Employees whose actions affect compliance

Ensure internal requirements for implementing changes, such as in operations and engineering

Considerations in Assessing Employee Training Needs
  • What EMS procedures affect his or her daily work?
  • What happens if these procedures are not followed?
  • What impact does his or her work have on the company's EMS implementation?
  • What knowledge and skills does he or she need?
  • How does his or her work affect their life in the community?

Note: Changing employee incentives to emphasize quality, lowering defect rates and cutting waste will improve employee awareness and reduce resource use and waste. 

Selecting Training Programs and Methods

Once the needs and training objectives have been identified and defined, training programs and methods will be selected. The environmental task group will research material for creating an effective training program.

Support material for training and awareness programs can often be obtained at standardization organizations, business associations, chambers of commerce, and other sources such as:

  • Consultancy firms
  • Community colleges and universities
  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Customers
  • Technical or trade business associations
  • Self-study or study groups
  • Training consortia (teaming with other local companies)
  • Websites

Scheduling Training

The next step is to schedule training sessions and workshops to raise employee awareness and provide required training. Training sessions are good opportunities to gain employee commitment and share the environmental values that will make the EMS an effective process.

Suggestions for Training

  • Emphasize the importance of employee participation in the EMS program and the contribution their work has to the program.
  • Videotape the current EMS training courses and show the tape to new employees and those who missed the training, or to reinforce the message.
  • Consider computer-based training as an alternative training method.
  • Also consider using other tools such as brainstorming, cause and effect analysis, problem-solving, process flow analysis and check lists.

Tip Sheet: Insights into Adult Learning
(Adapted from "30 Things We Know For Sure About Adult Learning," Training, July 1988)

  • Adults prefer active participation to straight lecture.

  • Information is acquired more slowly if it conflicts sharply with existing beliefs or has little conceptual overlap with current knowledge base.

  • Adults prefer self-directed learning and want to help shape the training program.

  • Adults have expectations. It is important to clarify these up-front.

  • Adults need the opportunity to integrate new ideas with their existing knowledge.

Communicating EMS Information

Good communication is vital to the success of EMS implementation. A good communication system should reach all levels and functions of the organization. Such a system demonstrates the company's commitment to environmental issues, gains the support of employees and the community, raises employee awareness, and enhances participation in the EMS implementation.

Regular communication is also the way to gain employee involvement in developing and implementing an EMS. It motivates the workforce, demonstrates management commitment and informs all personnel about the results of EMS performance.

A good communication system includes both internal and external lines of communication. It is important that employees and those outside the company (such as investors, customers, suppliers, shareholders, the local community, environmental groups, government, control authorities and the general public) are aware of the organization's commitment to sound environmental management.

A positive communication process improves the organization's image, facilitates future business relationships, increases employee satisfaction and pride in working for the company and encourages public understanding and acceptance of the company's efforts to improve its environmental performance.

Since employees are often an excellent source of information and ideas, create ways for staff to communicate their ideas. Keep in mind that external help is also available from sources such as consultants and other companies.

Communicate progress as it is made. A good internal and external communication system helps build trust and gain support.

Selecting Internal and External Target Audiences

External publicity is a positive marketing tool. Promoting the company's environmentally-friendly actions helps improve its public image and enhance acceptance of the organization's efforts to advance its environmental performance.

Internal publicity helps achieve positive environmental results. For instance, employee motivation can be enhanced by recognizing work in achieving environmental objectives and targets. For example, the CEO from a company personally signed over 250 letters to all his employees, explaining the importance and benefits an EMS would add to the company and asking for their commitment and participation. Employee response was extremely positive. Staff from all levels were involved in the process, and suggestions and feedback came from all departments.

Selecting Information to Share

The company should effectively provide much information as possible to both internal and external audiences, transparency is an important part of this process. Information may include:

  • The company's environmental mission statement
  • EMS objectives and targets
  • Organization performance (e.g. an 'environmental report')
  • Comparison and analysis of results
  • Environmental task group, action group roles and responsibilities
  • Monitoring and Assessment schedule
  • Preventative action and emergency procedures

Suggestions for Communication

  • Illustrate information materials with examples such as the company's targets and its achieved results.
  • Make sure that the material supplied is sufficiently detailed and easy to understand (in layman's terms). Use a glossary or attach definitions when using unfamiliar or technical terms.
  • Explain why these measures are being put into practice and the benefits of doing so.
  • Where possible, try to employ a paperless office and use more mass communication, such as e-mail.
  • Incorporate a positive public image related to environmental improvements into the company's marketing strategies.
  • Publicize the company's efforts to reduce negative environmental impacts.

Communication Procedures and Standards

The communication system in small and medium-sized enterprises are less complex than in large corporations. This is an advantage. Keep communication simple and efficient.

Promote two-way communication with suggestion boxes. Add space for environmental issues in the company's journal where employees can write their ideas, accomplishments, contributions and experiences during EMS execution.

Ways to Communicate with Staff, the Community and the Government

  • Staff meetings and brown bag lunches
  • Posters for building staff awareness of environmental and cost-saving issues
  • Packaging, vehicles, advertising, press releases and open houses
  • Announcements on the bulletin board
  • Reports on the organization's environmental performance, proposed actions and assigned personnel, objectives and targets
  • Individual letters to employees or attachments to payment slips, notice boards and newsletters
  • Mission statement
  • Annual report or a separate environment report
  • Notices reminding  staff of cost-saving procedures
  • Quiz sheets for raising or checking staff awareness of the environmental impact on businesses
  • Environmental events (both participation and funding)
  • Electronic mail messages, which are fast, inexpensive and environmentally-friendly
  • Internal newspapers

Maintaining the Flow of Information

A responsible person or group should handle communications. This task could be performed by member(s) of the environmental task group or human resources staff, for example.

All material, especially when intended for external release, should be checked prior to release that it accurately communicates the company's environmental performance, actions and concerns. It is also important to keep records and files on all communication of environmental matters, both internal and external.

Cost Determination and Setting a Budget

The final part of the implementation phase is preparing a preliminary budget for each project's development. Costs will include staff and employee time, training, some consulting assistance, materials and possibly equipment.

The cost of EMS implementation is difficult to quantify. Most significant costs are due to personnel expenditures. The benefits are equally hard to quantify, since many of the benefits are intangible. However, in a global economy in which labor, materials, and capital costs are likely to converge over time, effective management of environmental performance may become increasingly important in determining corporate winners. Evaluation shows that many of the investments in EMS implementation provide substantial positive returns and adds lasting value to the firm. In short, the benefits outweigh the costs.

It is critical that the company accurately and consistently measures its inputs and outputs. Without cost information, it is not possible for the company to adequately assess the results of improvements or the profitability of its products, departments or services.

Environmental costs are incurred by society, organizations or individuals resulting from activities that affect environmental quality. These impacts can be expressed in monetary or non-monetary terms.

Since cost is the primary concern for most small businesses, low-cost, low-tech changes should be identified and implemented first. These options are easier to implement and their benefits are readily apparent. More capital-intensive options should be implemented later.

In today's highly competitive business climate, companies gain sustained competitive advantage by reducing both environmental costs and operational costs and procedures which produce negative environmental impacts.

Low-cost Options with Immediate Payback

  • Employee training about EMS objectives and tasks
  • Finding ways to use waste as an energy source
  • Good housekeeping can prevent waste through spills, etc.
  • Using quality resealable containers, which prevent loss from spills and evaporation
  • Inventory control, which ensures that only necessary materials are used
  • Separating wastes, which may be used for recycling
  • Eliminating leaks, which reduces raw material consumption
  • Cleaning and stripping mechanically, which can replace solvents where possible
  • Using old solvents for a first rinse, which may extend the life of the fresh solvent.

Tip Sheet: Writing the Financial Plan

  • The company may have a budget system for projects that could be adapted to environmental issues.

  • Analyze all options carefully, weighing costs versus benefits.

  • Keep inventories of the amount of raw materials used per process to monitor process efficiency.

  • Maintain an inventory of the types and quantities of waste produced by the company to target waste reduction opportunities.

  • Consider the cost of waste disposal when developing profit and loss statements.

  • Keep records of waste production costs associated with the various processes.

  • Break down costs and benefits by category (such as development, implementation and maintenance) and type (such as materials, equipment, labor, fees and consultants).

  • Develop a methodology for tracking costs and benefits.


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The material in this work is copyrighted. Copying and/or transmitting portions or all of this work without permission may be a violation of applicable law.  IFC does not guarantee the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the content included in this work, or for the conclusions or judgments described herein, and accepts no responsibility or  liability for any omissions or errors (including, without limitation, typographical errors and technical errors) in the content whatsoever or for reliance thereon.

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