How to Encourage Employee-Led Eco-Projects
Employees working for firms with environmental policies are most likely to implement eco-initiatives. To encourage employee eco-initiatives, managers can adopt a written environmental policy and communicate it to employees. Managers can also listen to employee suggestions, encourage partnerships with other departments, and motivate employees by giving rewards for achieving goals.
Eco-initiatives are actions taken by employees to improve the company's environmental performance. These may include recycling, producing a less energy-intensive product or replacing a product with a service. Even though eco-initiatives and other innovations require similar support and encouragement, eco-initiatives receive less attention. This research demonstrates the need to engage employees in environmental activities.
Employees are more likely to develop and implement eco-initiatives when:
Employees believe their company is committed to the environment. 50% of employees promote eco-initiatives when their company has a published environmental policy vs. 19% when their company has no environmental policy.
Managers encourage employees to participate in environmental initiatives. Supervisor support raises the percentage of employees involved in eco-initiatives from 33.5% to 58.5%. Types of effective support include encouraging environmental innovation, helping employees build competencies, communicating, giving rewards and recognition, and managing goals and responsibilities.
Implications for Managers
To encourage employee eco-initiatives, managers can:
- Adopt a convincing environmental policy and communicate it to employees. This may include a published environmental policy, performance targets, and an environmental management system.
- Encourage innovation.Encourage partnerships with other departments in order to implement new ideas.
- Develop employee skills.Discuss and implement a learning plan with each employee.
- Communicate with employees.Listen openly to feedback and adopt relevant suggestions. Share ideasbetween employees, managers, and divisions.
- Reward and recognize employees.Acknowledge employees who have achieved or surpassed goals and give bonus pay or other monetary rewards.
- Manage goals and responsibilities. Set clear and measurable goals for employees and discuss progress.
Implications for Researchers
Future surveys should control for a social desirability bias for eco-initiatives, since companies chosen for this study were environmentally proactive. Future research could explore whether managers' personal values affect employee eco-initiatives, and how employee capacity and motivation influence the promotion of eco-initiatives.
This study developed a logic model to determine which environmental policy factors and management support behaviours were positively related to employee eco-initiatives. Researchers conducted interviews with 353 mid- and low-level employees at 6 environmentally proactive companies in Europe. Companies were from the chemical, entertainment, manufacturing, medical devices, oil, and retail sectors.
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