In an environment of heightened awareness about water, carbon, climate change, air quality and pollution, corporate social responsibility and environmental responsibility will remain strong factors in an organization's value proposition to their employees.
A representative group was selected of over 14,000 staff from the three quarters of a million responses in our benchmark databases. These staff came from all types of organisations, large and small, government, not-for-profit and corporate. The responses included those of a rubbish collector and a Nobel Prize winner, and everybody in between.
This article discovers how improving environmental responsibility helps to attract and retain a skilled workforce.
Education and age affect expectations of employer environmental performance, but bosses would be unwise to ignore their scorecard from staff.
You'd be crazy not to look in the mirror before going out, and organizations are no different. Before seeking new clients and staff, smart organizations look in the mirror with a staff survey. Some get great confidence from what they see, others realize they're unkempt. Many also ask themselves if the mirror is telling lies.
Increasingly, all types of organizations are realizing that "looking good" in the market place includes being environmentally responsible. The answers in a study reveal that the mirror can lie. Bosses should pay careful attention to images of themselves.
What your people think of your environmental performance is important for a number of reasons:
o enhanced environmental performance is associated with increased employee commitment
o environmental issues are becoming more important to people and influence their buying decisions
o employees adopt employer branding and they are an important way of winning new clients
o potential new employees take a company's environmental performance into account and often ask current employees for their opinion
o employee actions determine your environmental performance and understanding how they feel is often the first step to meeting their expectations
To find out just how good the mirror is, a representative group of over 14,000 staff from the three quarters of a million responses was selected for this study. These staff came from all types of organizations, large and small, government, not-for-profit and corporate. The responses included those of a rubbish collector and a Nobel Prize winner, and everybody in between.
The responses were analyzed to find out what effect age, gender, tenure, education and size of organization might have on employee opinions. Its findings provide insight for all employers about how to better understand, manage, meet and leverage employee perceptions of their commitment to the environment.
Participants were asked to respond on a one to seven scale to the statement: "Our organization is committed to the environment."
The age group with the lowest expectations of their employers' environmental performance were those greater than 54 years old. It was 25-34 year olds who were the most critical of their employers' environmental performance, more critical even than the younger generation Y employees. Age had the biggest effect on response to the survey statement and all organizations would be wise to realise that a workforce dominated by 25-34 year olds will hold them to a higher standard of environmental performance.
The analysis was performed on those professionals in jobs requiring a degree against others. It was found that people in jobs requiring a university degree were more critical than others in their assessment of their employers' environmental performance. Therefore professional services firms which are dominated by people with degrees are held to higher environmental standards by their staff than manufacturing organizations which have a lower proportion of tertiary educated people.
Research into business and social ethics has produced mixed findings about whether women have higher standards than men. This study found men to have higher environmental expectations than women. The finding was statistically significant but the difference was small.
Tenure and seniority were also tested. No effect was found between these two factors and employee perceptions of their employer's commitment to the environment.
Size of organization
The sample was broken down into three groups, those from organizations of less than 100 employees, 100-1000 and over 1000. Organizations with 100-1000 people had roughly the same perspective on their employers' commitment to the environment as people from very large organizations. However people in smaller organizations, less than 100 employees, were more critical than the other groups of their employers' environmental performance.
3 reasons bosses need to listen
Organizations should pay attention to their employees' opinions because in this study a strong positive correlation was observed between employees who thought their employer was environmentally responsible and employees who were committed and satisfied with their jobs.
Should bosses just ignore what they're hearing from their people? They can if they want, but it would be unwise to do so. A study was performed where two almost identical employment brochures were given to a group of university students. The only difference between the two brochures was that one highlighted the environmental credentials of the prospective employer and the other didn't. Students were then asked whether or not they would be inclined to apply for a job with the company that had been described in the brochure. Significantly more students were interested in working for the company with the environmental credentials.
When environmental credentials of applicants were then analyzed, their increased likelihood of applying for a job was not solely related to the environmental ethics of the applicant. This means that being an environmentally sound company won't just stack your candidate pool with Greenies, it will stack your candidate pool with all types of people because environmental commitment is a recognized part of corporate social responsibility, which has been related in many studies to increased application rates and higher employee commitment.
The third reason why employers should listen to the messages from their staff is an issue of risk and reputation. Policies and practices that may harm the organization's reputation and financial status may be hidden from senior management and directors. Staff surveys are a great way for organizations to equip themselves with the right questions to ask. Think of Union Carbide and the Bhopal Disaster, BHP and Ok Tedi, Shell and Brent Spar, Hooker Chemical and Love Canal, or the Pacific Gas and Electric Company/Erin Brockovich story. These are examples of companies that have suffered very significant reputational damage as a result of poor environmental stewardship. If they had listened to their employees the problems may never have existed.
In an environment of heightened awareness about water, carbon, climate change, air quality and pollution, corporate social responsibility and environmental responsibility will remain strong factors in an organization's value proposition to employees. Improving environmental responsibility helps to attract and retain a skilled workforce. In an environment of low unemployment the importance of these issues is paramount.
Promoting environmental efforts will become increasingly important to attract and retain employees and customers. The imminent retirement of the Baby Boomers, the group with the lowest expectations of their employer with regard to the environment, means the issue will become more important to the majority of employees. This is because as baby boomers retire, generation Y enter. Generation Y have a higher tendency to change jobs and they hold employers to high standards in terms of development opportunities and their relationship with society.
To summarize, the mirror might not be a perfect reflection of an organization's performance, but the world sees the mirror more often than they see what an organization is really like. Improve your organization's value proposition and bottom line by going green.
For more information on this study click here: http://www.insyncsurveys.com.au/Articles/#employee-survey-green-study.
About Insync Surveys
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