A Corporate Partnership with Next Step Living®
If there's a company that knows how to put together a winning offer, it's Staples, the leading U.S. office-supplies retailer.
So when Staples went looking for a partner to launch a new program to reduce the carbon footprints of the organization and its people, the $24 billion company had a second goal in mind: Create a benefit that workers would love, and boost employee engagement.
The Staples partnership with Next Step Living, New England's leading whole-home energy solutions company, served both objectives. The partnership is one of several sustainability programs that Staples uses to promote another strategic goal: differentiating the Framingham, Mass.-based firm in its very competitive industry.
"We have 520 Energy Star-certified buildings," says Mark Buckley, Staples' vice president of environmental affairs. "Our partnership with Next Step Living takes that commitment and broadens it to include more of our employees."
Next Step Living Piques Interest, Earns Trust of Staples Employees.
The central objective of the Staples partnership with Next Step Living is simple: Offer employees easy access to home energy-efficiency improvements, at the lowest possible cost.
Staples employees’ first contact with Next Step Living is typically at lunchtime tables in cafeterias, which regularly host information fairs on topics such as energy and health and wellness. They learn about efficiency improvements ranging from programmable thermostats to going solar to options for oil heating such as ductless mini-split heating and cooling systems. (Editor's note: Next Step Living recommends ductless mini splits as an energy-efficient heating and cooling solution, but does not directly offer them to homeowners. If interested, we can connect you to an HVAC partner to suit your needs.)
Home energy efficiency has a growing following among Staples employees. “The program gains momentum each time Next Step Living is here," Buckley says. "Next Step Living explains who they are and what they do, and more and more of our employees get it."
Buckley believes the partnership has successfully addressed the trust issue that can arise with residential energy-efficiency improvements. "You’re letting someone into your home, after all," he says. Next Step Living's supervision of weatherization and other improvements has earned the trust of all the employees he's heard from. "The fact that Staples is endorsing the program helps a lot," Buckley says. "And we get employees to talk about how easy it is.”
"After hundreds of assessments, everything that I've heard has been positive," says Buckley. "The typical reaction is, ‘Gee, they made it really easy for me.’ ” Next Step Living works to ensure that each participating employee gets the best combination of no-cost improvements and government subsidies and utility rebates for energy-saving measures.
A Novel Employee Benefit: Energy Savings.
Buckley believes the program, which Next Step Living offers at no cost to corporate partners, helps to improve the company's employer brand. “I think it’s being viewed as a very positive work-life benefit, as an extension of our commitment in our own operations, buildings and fleets. We’re putting real money in our employees’ pocket, which is increasingly difficult for corporations to do these days." Over 10 years, participating Staples employees will save more than $250,000 on home energy and prevent the emission of more than 1,000 metrics tons of greenhouse gases.
"After hundreds of assessments, everything that I've heard has been positive."
Vice President of Environmental Affairs
Buckley looks forward to the continued expansion of the employee energy-efficiency program. “The bigger opportunity for us is to move further ahead with solar," says Buckley. "Folks have been very pleased so far with the way solar works."
Spreading the Word to Customers and Corporate Partners.
With Sustainability in a Box, the reach of the Staples-Next Step Living employee home-energy partnership is being extended to the employees of Staples' corporate customers. This new program enables Staples to spread the word about Next Step Living’s package of home energy solutions to its customers’ employees. “As we’re thinking about our brand and sustainability, we want to be viewed by our customers as their sustainable business solutions provider," says Buckley.
Take the First Step.