Changing Behaviour: Successful Environmental Programmes in the Workplace



Changing Behaviour: Successful Environmental Programmes in the Workplace


There is an increasing focus on improving the pro-environmental attitudes, behaviour and habits of individuals, whether at home, in education, travelling, shopping or in the workplace. This article focuses on the workplace by conducting a multi-disciplinary literature review of research that has examined the influence of organization-based behaviour change initiatives. The review includes only research evidence that measured actual environmental performance (e.g. energy use) rather than solely using self-reported methods (e.g. questionnaires). The authors develop an ‘employee pro-environmental behaviour’ (e-PEB) framework, which contains individual, group, organizational and contextual factors that have predictive relevance across different behaviours and organizations. The review shows that the strongest predictors are environmental awareness, performance feedback, financial incentives, environmental infrastructure, management support and training. A key finding from this review is that attitude change is not necessarily a pre-requisite for behaviour change in the workplace. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment


RECENT YEARS HAVE SHOWN AN INCREASED POLICY, PRACTICE AND RESEARCH ACTIVITY AROUND CHANGING THE behaviour of individuals and organizations to reduce their impacts on the natural environment. The topic of workplace behaviour has become increasingly important as more and more organizations implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or organizational sustainability strategies (Young and Tilley, 2006). For the majority of organizations (companies and public institutions), CSR and sustainability strategies can improve environmental performance, especially when employees are involved in the development of these strategies (Boiral, 2005; Michailides and Lipsett, 2013).

Research has shown that environmental infrastructure (Ucci, 2010) and system changes (Hertin et al., 2008; King et al., 2005) can only reduce an organization’s environmental impacts to a limited extent and that employee responses to such changes are a crucial boundary condition (Davis et al., 2011). In addition, organizations are increasingly using employee behaviour change interventions to address a range of issues, such as increasing recycling, reducing energy use, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing water use and increasing public transport use. Appreciating the factors that influence employee responses and intervention uptake is thus critical, and behaviour change research can help organizations to significantly improve their environmental performance and assist in addressing critical ecological issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss (Rockström et al., 2009).

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