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    How various personal certificates can help your EMS

    If your organization has an EMS (Environmental Management System) that is or will be certified according to ISO 14001, you may be aware of the amount of work required to maintain compliance with legislation and good environmental performance. It therefore stands to reason that your organization should seek to gain every advantage, internal and external, to make it as easy as possible to achieve that good performance. Given this, it only makes sense to solicit the assistance of your employees, some of whom may have personal qualifications and certifications that can assist in your establishment, maintenance, and performance of the EMS, benefitting the overall performance of the EMS itself. So, what is the best way to achieve this?

    Assessing the requirements

    Organizations can grow so quickly, and projects often need to be delivered at such short notice, that it is easy to overlook the qualifications and certifications of employees, and automatically seek external help first. This can certainly be the case when either the establishment or operation of a company EMS is concerned, where many personal qualities and certified abilities can be put to use. So, why would your organization want to do this? There are compelling reasons; let us consider some now:

    • Involving employees with relevant certifications in the running or setup of your EMS can save your company considerable amounts of money, where training, external consultancy, or even new hires might previously have been required. The article How much does ISO 14001 implementation cost? gives hints on implementation costs, and this is one method of reducing that cost.
    • Using employees with existing certifications can help build team morale through involvement, and increase staff “buy in” when it comes to your EMS and its results. This benefit is rarely felt when hiring external assistance for a short period, where the benefit usually ends when the consultant leaves.
    • Increase your knowledge base for future improvement. Investing time, resources, and training in existing employees who have related certifications also brings longer-term benefits that hiring consultants or short-term help doesn’t. Investing in the correct people in your workforce can ensure continual improvement in years to come, provided you can retain those employees.

    Now that we understand the reasons for using existing employees for EMS-related activities, what certifications and skills should we look for?


    Filling the gaps with existing skills

    Firstly, it is recommended that a gap analysis be done to highlight the skills and certifications your employee base holds, and match them against those required in the implementation or maintenance of your EMS. Let’s look at some common employee certifications and how they could be used to benefit your EMS:

    • Project management: This is a common certification for employees in many sectors of modern business to attain, and there are many instances in the establishment or operation of an EMS where these skills could be utilized. Whether in the implementation phase, or whether driving internal environmental initiatives, harnessing an employee’s project management skills can bring benefits and save time and money.
    • General ISO experience: If you have employees with certifications or experience in ISO 9001 or ISO 27001, they will almost certainly have skills that are transferrable to the requirements of your EMS. With the basic structures of the standards being the same, utilize these employees to help with specific tasks that are common to all standards, such as the internal audit or even training, competence, and knowledge.
    • Risk control experience: Many employees see the growing field of risk management as one to gain certifications in. With ISO producing the 31000 standard and many different countries having separate risk control qualifications, this skill can be transferred effectively to help your environmental performance. Think of identification and handling of environmental aspects, and you can imagine one task where an employee with risk control training can be utilized with minimal guidance to bring real benefit to your EMS and its results.
    • Audit experience: Again, this is a relatively common skill, and if your organization has an employee with such skills, these can be utilized to the benefit of the EMS. Our free Internal Auditor Course can help sharpen these skills.
    • Communications and marketing certifications: Most modern-day organizations have a communications and/or marketing individual. Given ISO 14001’s requirement for internal and external communication, and the need to “sell” the benefits of the EMS to employees and stakeholders, it is easy to see how such a skillset can be used to the benefit of the EMS. The article ISO 14001 Case Study: Practical Approach for EMS communication can provide guidance on this.

    Making your employees’ certifications work for your EMS

    As we have seen, there are many examples where employees with certifications and qualifications can be utilized, and their skillsets aligned, to bring benefit to environmental performance within any organization. Ensuring that these certifications are identified, and developing a training plan to enable employees to adapt these skills effectively, can be a challenge – but hugely rewarding in terms of cost savings, time saved, and benefits to employee engagement and morale, as well as the obvious benefits to EMS performance. In effect, using this method as your first option when establishing and operating your EMS can ensure that you build a culture within your organization that stresses the importance of employees and environmental performance, which is a message that will guarantee employee engagement and positive environmental performance in the years to come.

    These free ISO 14001 online courses will give you a complete knowledge and the chance to get certified by a leading certification body.

    Advisera John Nolan
    Author
    John Nolan
    John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.