As EHS professionals faced with managing in the most brutal economic times any of us have ever known, I thought I’d kick off my posts with some practical thoughts on how to deal with what’s inevitably facing us.
You know what’s coming: budget and resource fights. You are going to be asked to “cut 10%” or “do more w/less” etc. After looking for the few discretionary things in your already meager budget you can postpone with out doing real damage, you push back. But how? Here are 3 practical approaches I would offer:
- Explain the difference between “nice to do” and “have to do”. The laws didn’t change and the regulators/enforcers aren’t declaring a compliance holiday. Now is the time zealous budget cutters wielding budget axes get companies in trouble. Use external and internal examples to show that compliance isn’t discretionary and bad things do happen when companies cut needed resources.
- Make the EHS productivity case. Find cost out opportunities (e. g. energy efficiency treasure hunts; waste reduction; lower I&I rates etc). EHS is not just “cost in”.
- Wrap what you do in the sacred banner of the day whether it’s sustainability initiatives or making sure you have REACH and ROHS right so you can avoid bans on your products or complying with a Consent Decree or compliance order.
“Not a team player” isn’t a label anybody wants. But now is the time EHS leaders and leadership are most important. It’s when we keep our bosses from doing the “stupid thing”. Sometimes EHS is a victim of its own success (something I’d like to explore in future blogs). Now is not the time to let that happen.
So, dish your techniques for keeping your budget and the places you found costs to take out that helped your case. Share your strategies and your concerns. In the EHS world both misery and success love company.