Creating a culture of sustainability that motivates employees

Supportive organisational and social factors were found to be critical in shaping sustainable behaviours, surpassing personal beliefs and actions.
By: | June 22, 2023

In the face of mounting concerns regarding the global climate crisis, a team of Princeton researchers has discovered that organisations can have a significant impact on promoting sustainable behaviours among employees and that there is a link between eco-friendly actions and increased job satisfaction.

Titled Predictors and consequences of pro-environmental behaviour at work, the research revealed that social and organisational factors play a crucial role in shaping sustainable behaviours. While personal beliefs and actions were important, employees were more likely to engage in eco-friendly practices if they felt supported by their organisation and co-workers.

Organisational signals were found to influence individuals’ decisions regarding environmental actions at work, with perception playing an important role in driving green behaviours. For instance, employees may refrain from incorporating sustainability into their job tasks if they anticipate disapproval from their organisation or colleagues, regardless of personal beliefs. Conversely, an organisation’s prioritisation of sustainability can inspire employees to integrate environmental considerations into their daily responsibilities, even if they are less concerned about climate change personally.

Furthermore, the research pointed out a positive correlation between sustainable behaviours and job satisfaction. Employees who reported engaging in sustainable actions at work expressed higher levels of job satisfaction.

READ MORE: How organisations can empower employees to drive ESG success

Elke Weber, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment at Princeton University, who led the research team, concluded, “The ability to express one’s values and beliefs actually does influence people’s happiness at work. That should get the attention of employers. If organisations can create an environment where employees feel they can express their values, they could end up with happier and more engaged employees.”