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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. question-naires). The authors develop an ‘employee pro-environmental behaviour’ (e-PEB) frame- work, 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 prerequisite 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 Talley, 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 re- sponses to such changes are a crucial boundary condition (Davis et al., 2011). In addition, organizations are increas- ingly 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 behav- iour 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).
To date, much of the research on the effectiveness of such behavioural interventions has focused on the methods and tools of changing behaviour patterns relating to a speciﬁc behaviour. This research is often deductive, examin- ing only those factors relevant to the particular theoretical model or behavioural focus (Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012; Tudor et al., 2007, 2008). In addition, relatively little research has focused on the actual environmental performance outcomes of an intervention, making it impossible to calculate the overall effectiveness of such an intervention within an organizational context (Steg and Vlek, 2009).
We argue that what inﬂuences employee uptake of behaviour change interventions, and the impact of this on an organization’s environmental performance, is complex and is in need of a multi-disciplinary review of the research evidence. Furthermore, we argue that this review should be of research focusing not only on behaviour changes (e.g. self-reported behaviour) but also on environmental performance indicators (EPIs) (e.g. waste recycling rates cal- culated from comparing quantities in recycling bins compared with general waste bins). The reason is that factors elsewhere in the organization’s structure or operations may counterbalance an employee behaviour change and cause rebound effects (Berkhout et al., 2000). Hence, the main aim of this paper is to review research evidence and to develop a conceptual framework of the factors that contribute to the successful change in EPIs through changing the behaviour of employees.
To do this we use the following approach. We take an existing framework that was developed to map the key an- tecedents of a particular sustainable environmental behaviour, namely waste management, performed by employees in a large organization (Tudor et al., 2008). Next, we review research evidence at both the individual and organiza- tional levels and examine the successfulness of workplace behaviour change initiatives in changing EPIs with a wide focus on environmental sustainability issues such as transport, energy, resource and water use. We map these ﬁndings onto the framework by Tudor et al. (2008), and discuss its strengths and shortcomings in explaining the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions aimed at improving an organization’s environmental performance. In the following section we ﬁrst present our baseline framework based on the work of Tudor et al. (2008). We then outline the method of our review. Next, we offer a systematic review of the literature in this area and highlight the key ﬁndings to date in light of the baseline framework. In the ﬁnal sections of this article we present a revised framework for behaviour change and offer implications for business strategy and suggestions for managers and for future research in this area.
The Baseline Framework
We started with the process framework of determinants for sustainable waste management behaviour identiﬁed by Tudor et al. (2008), which resulted from a case study of a National Health Service (NHS) Trust. The NHS Trust is a provider of state healthcare through family doctors and hospitals in the Southwest of England. We chose this frame- work as it is unique in specifying factors that inﬂuence employee behaviour change at both the individual and orga- nizational levels. In addition, it was conceptualized as a result of research measuring the impact of interventions on actual environmental performance (Lo et al., 2012). Their case study framework details which determinants helped change employee behaviour to better manage and reduce waste including clinical, food and paper waste along with monitoring of the organization’s EPIs. The framework provides a valuable starting point to attempt to integrate the variety of psychological and organizational behaviour change techniques that have been implemented in the area of environmental sustainability and to identify common mechanisms or pathways to change.
The framework identiﬁes employee-level factors on the top half and the organizational level factors on the bottom half of the framework (see Figure 1). Tudor et al. (2008) emphasize that the key individual level factors to affect em- ployee behavioural intentions were
- the attitudes of staff, especially as a result of the value placed on the environment and job satisfaction, and
- Waste management behaviour at home.
The key organizational level factors were
- the focus and structure of the organization, the associated management support and availability of resources (ﬁnance and personnel) and their contribution to the organization’s culture and levels of motivation and
- the organization’s culture (both formal and informal), and its association with levels of motivation. Furthermore, the relation between intentions and actual behaviour was mediated by an intention–behaviour gap.
We reviewed the literature available in English on workplace interventions (Dwyer et al., 1993) designed to increase pro-environmental behaviour, which measured the intervention’s effects on environmental performance using EPIs. In ﬁnding and selecting the research we used a multi-disciplinary approach (Young and Middlemiss, 2012) bringing together research evidence from different disciplines, including environmental science, geography, social psychology, organizational psychology and business management. To ensure generalizability, we included research conducted within a broad range of industries, such as universities, health organization, construction companies, banks and manufacturers.
For evidence to be included in the review, sources had to meet all three of the following inclusion criteria.
- The paper examined an intervention in the workplace to increase pro-environmental behaviour (PEB). The interven- tion could have been part of a researcher instigated experiment (similar to the inclusion criteria for Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012), an intervention instigated by the organization or an intervention from outside the organization such as a government Importantly, the paper had to include pre- and post-intervention measures.
- It included the actual environmental performance outcome of the intervention using an EPI appropriate for the speciﬁc intervention (e.g. recycling rate using data calculated from quantity of materials in recycling bins com- pared with general waste bins or researcher observation). This criteria was set because self-reporting can be unreliable or exaggerated (Chao and Lam, 2011). The EPIs used could be either for the speciﬁc intervention or for the organization as a whole, which often varies with the size of the intervention and/or the organization. Both improvements and null effects were included. Papers on null effects were scarce, which unfortunately is a gen- eral researcher reporting problem (Saunders, 2000).
- It was published after 1980. The reason for limiting research by date is that organizational settings and their con- cern with environmental performance have changed signiﬁcantly over time, and older research ﬁndings would have a strongly reduced validity in current organizations, thereby making these ﬁndings less useful for practi- tioners (Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012).
To identify appropriate publications we used three techniques. The ﬁrst technique was a keyword search in the databases PsycINFO, Science Direct, Web of Knowledge, Wiley Online, EBSCO Business Source Premier and Google Scholar, using the terms environmental, green, recycling, waste, energy, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, water and/or transport combined with employee behavio(u)r and/or intervention, e.g. ’environmental AND employee behavio(u)r’. Table 1 shows the total results returned by these databases. The second technique was a Google search for grey literature. The third technique was to search the reference lists of the articles, books and grey literature from the ﬁrst two techniques for any relevant further references.
A researcher was employed for six months to use the inclusion criteria above to systematically go through the re- sults from the initial search. From the large number of initial search results shown in Table 1, approximately half the articles were on topics not relevant to environmental sustainability in organizations. Another quarter of articles were discounted as they reviewed employee behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and habits in relation to environmental sustain- ability in general surveys, but did not evaluate any behavioural intervention. After excluding those articles that did not meet our review criteria, 17 articles were left. Table 2 shows the methods, geographical focus and impact factor of the journals in which the articles were published.
The 17 articles that were included in our review were evaluated for key conclusions and for how those conclusions related to the factors presented in the baseline framework (Tudor et al., 2008). During this process we were able to identify several additional factors that were not present in the framework. This led to the development of a new, slightly adjusted framework for the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions in improving an organization’s environmental performance.
In reviewing the articles we initially set out to sort them into individual factors versus organizational factors, which is in line with the baseline framework. Individual factors relate to the psychological/cognitive factors that are involved in individual decision-making by the employees. Organizational factors operate at the broader scale of the organization, acting as part of the organizational context, which may enable or constrain the success of any behaviour change initiatives. However, after an initial review of the 17 articles, it became clear that two categories needed to be added to the individual versus organizational factors division, namely group factors and external fac- tors. Group factors are the day-to-day inﬂuences of managers and colleagues on an employee’s behaviour. They fall in between individual factors and organizational factors. External factors are contextual factors and experiences outside the organization that can inﬂuence the employees’ behaviours. These factors can range from being individ- ual speciﬁc, for example household norms. However, they can also be community, stat, or even government wide, such as policies that favour certain behaviours over others. We will now present the factors within each of the four categories in more detail, starting with the individual factors.
|Database||Number of results|
|Web of Knowledge||1 130|
|EBSCO Business Source Premier||24|
|Google Scholar||375 000|
|Table 1. Results of database search for research evidence|
Paper Methods Geographical focus Impact factor of journal
|Boiral (2005)||• 3 case studies using interviews
• Site observations
• Documented environmental performance data
|Cairns et al. (2010)||• 21 case studies||UK||2.725|
|• Car arrival counts|
|Carrico and Riemer (2011)||• 2 feedback interventions in 24 buildings||USA||2.549|
|at a University
• Electricity consumption and temperature records
|Dwyer et al. (1993)||• Review of 53 articles||International||1.282|
|Holland et al. (2006)||• Field-experiment on repetitive behaviour||Netherlands||2.219|
|• 109 employees of six different departments|
|at a tele-company
|• Recording of paper disposal|
|Jones et al. (2012)||• Interventionist techniques||UK||1.047|
|• Audits of energy and waste|
|Lingard et al. (2001)||• Multiple-baseline experiment||Australia||N/A|
|• Material input and waste output recording|
|Schelly et al. (2011)||• 2 case studies||USA||1.282|
|• Focus groups|
|• Unstructured interviews|
|• Energy use and cost data collected|
|Schwartz et al. (2010)||• Participatory action research approach||Germany||N/A|
|• Focus groups and workshops|
|• Energy use monitoring|
|Shiftan et al. (2012)||• 640 Questionnaires||Israel||1.541|
|• National average travel statistics|
|Siero et al. (1996)||• Quasi-experimental design.||Netherlands||2.549|
|• Questionnaires and information|
|• Observations of energy-wasting behaviour|
|Staats et al. (2000)||• Informational interventions||Netherlands||0.762|
|• Unobtrusive observation of energy use|
|Tam and Tam (2008)||• Interviews||Hong Kong, China||1.989|
|• Cost record for the quantities of materials|
|and waste generation|
|Tudor et al. (2008)||• An ethnographic study||UK||2.549|
|• Waste bin analysis|
|Vanhouten et al. (1981)||• Multiple-baseline design||Canada||0.762|
|• Energy consumption meter|
|Wu et al. (2013)||• Questionnaires||Canada||N/A|
|• Observation of waste disposal behaviour|
|Zhen et al. (2002)||• Interventionist techniques||Hong Kong, China||1.82|
|• Recording of quantities of materials|
The role of individuals’ inﬂuence on their own behaviour is critical and covers employees’ beliefs, attitudes and awareness through value–belief–norm (VBN) theory (Stern, 2000) and the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991). This category includes the baseline framework’s factors of beliefs, environmental attitudes and environmental awareness, but also individual feedback and ﬁnancial incentives. While much research has examined individual factors in pro-environmental behaviour (Bamberg and Möser, 2007; Steg and Vlek, 2009), far fewer re- searchers have examined these relationships in a workplace setting. We will discuss the research that has been done in relation to each of these factors, starting with the factors mentioned in the baseline framework.
Beliefs and Environmental Attitudes
Hoffman (1993) suggested that, for better employee motivation, companies need to balance employee and company environmental values. The evidence Tudor et al. (2008) found showed that environmental attitudes were a strong predictor for behaviour and underlying beliefs shaped employees’ environmental attitudes. Individual’s beliefs and attitudes affect the organization’s incentives towards environmental sustainability and vice versa. There was no further evidence in the literature to support this, with some studies showing changes in behaviour without changes in attitudes (Schelly et al., 2011; Schwartz et al., 2010). Interventions attempting to use informational tech- niques to induce attitude change have had mixed success with staff training having better success (Jones et al., 2012). Indeed, it is likely that focusing on attitude change alone to bring about behaviour change will not achieve great success.
Environmental awareness can be split into procedural knowledge and informational interventions. Knowledge about recycling materials, methods of recycling and disposal processes have been shown to inﬂuence employee behaviour. Tudor et al. (2008) found that employees who were aware of their organization’s waste management practices were more likely to act sustainably. This was also the case in a follow-up case study in the construction sector, where a combination of training and posters increased awareness and hence recycling (Jones et al., 2012). Operators in the Canadian chemical industry were more likely to improve environmental performance if made aware of their en- vironmental duties (Boiral, 2005). In a comparative study of energy conservation in two public schools, respondents reported that reminders to turn off lights and computers inﬂuenced their behaviour (Schelly et al., 2011).
In addition to the above, we augmented the Tudor et al. (2008) framework in two ways. First, there is substantial evidence that feedback on employees’ efforts inﬂuences their behaviour. Staats et al. (2000) found that a 6% reduc- tion in ofﬁce heating gas consumption was obtained through providing information (instructions on altering ofﬁce thermostats) followed by collective, and then individual, feedback.
This information offers reﬂection and potential for energy conservation. Schwartz et al. (2010) found that provid- ing feedback on power usage, together with supporting workshops, reduced consumption. However, the behaviour change weakened and reverted to previous habits once this feedback and support was removed. The results suggest that information should be presented in simple ways for employees to make sense of it and to draw connections to their own practices of energy usage.
Schelly et al. (2011) reported that feedback provides information regarding the outcome of employee’s actions as well as an opening to discuss conservation in a simple and meaningful language. One student from the study stated ’I think another thing that really helped the school – they started doing lots of graphs and charts, putting dollar amounts. It made is easier; it made a lot of sense to people when you put a dollar amount on it’ (Schelly et al., 2011, p. 332).
Lingard et al. (2001) conducted a quasi-experiment to determine the effectiveness of goal setting and feedback in improving solid waste management performance in the construction industry. They selected the construction of a sports stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The intervention process included participative goal setting and feedback on performance. Feedback charts were displayed at the site. The interventions were carried out for timber and con- crete usage. The results showed that the average waste disposal as landﬁll for the timber intervention fell from 30 m3 to 10 m3 per fortnight; in the concrete intervention it fell from 19.8 m3 to 18.7 m3 per fortnight. The reductions in waste generated between pre- and post-intervention periods for both the timber and concrete conditions were found to be statistically signiﬁcant, suggesting that goal setting and feedback can be used successfully for solid waste man- agement programmes.
Individual-Level Financial Incentives
Another additional factor we identiﬁed based on the review is ﬁnancial incentives. Financial incentives have been assumed to encourage behaviour change in employees, including environmental sustainability related behaviours, for example, ’introducing incentive payments for those not driving to work had often helped to achieve higher than average levels of behaviour change’ (Cairns et al., 2010, p. 481). Tam and Tam (2008) studied the inﬂuence of a step- wise incentive scheme in Hong Kong to assess the motivation of construction employees to reduce waste genera- tion. A stepwise incentive scheme works on the idea that the ’…higher the waste reduction level being achieved, the higher is the required incentive’ (Tam and Tam, 2008, p. 39). Performance of the construction projects was eval- uated on a regular basis. Reducing material wastage and waste sent to landﬁll resulted in monetary rewards. If em- ployees reduced materials wastage and waste sent to landﬁll by 10% or more, employees received a reward of 30% of the total cost saved. The proportion of incentive increased as the percentage of the material saved increased. To con- ﬁrm its success a local hotel development project was used. The project was accessed three times at intervals of three months. Results showed positive improvements at each stage. The second assessment reported double the cost sav- ing compared with the ﬁrst assessment; the third assessment reported three times more cost savings compared with the second assessment. In total, 23% less waste was generated for the construction projects.
This is a key category that focuses on employees’ day-to-day relationships with colleagues and managers. It was not included in the baseline model, and hence added to our revised model. It contains two factors that were found to be of inﬂuence on the individual level as well, namely feedback and ﬁnancial incentives.
Siero et al. (1996) studied the inﬂuence of comparative feedback to encourage employee energy conservation behav- iour in two Dutch metallurgical plants. Two units from the organization were selected and educational information about the energy conservation behaviour was provided. Both groups received feedback on their energy conservation behaviour in the form of graphs. One group only received feedback about their own unit’s performance, whilst the other group received comparative feedback of their own unit’s performance versus the other units. The results showed that energy conservation behaviour was signiﬁcantly higher for the comparative feedback group. In addi- tion, this group was also more conscious of and curious to know about energy conservation. This energy conserva- tion behaviour was sustained over the entire six-month study period. Carrico and Riemer (2011) reported that provision of feedback on changes in energy consumption as compared with the previous month can be effective in reducing energy consumption – ’On average, buildings that received feedback used 7% less energy than buildings assigned to the control group’ (Carrico and Riemer, 2011, p. 10).
Zhen et al. (2002) examined the inﬂuence of a group based incentive reward programme (IRP) for construction work in a housing project in Hong Kong. They used a bar code tracking system to track and account for all the build- ing materials on the site. The IRP involved rewarding the group with a proportion of the value of the saved mate- rials. The workers were divided into two groups, an IRP group and a control group. This intervention lasted for 3 months. The results showed that the group with the IRP saved construction materials worth HK$ 705 344.85 while the control group wasted construction material worth HK$ 747,947.71 with the difference between the two groups being HK$ 1 453 292.5. The result indicates that ﬁnancial incentives may motivate employees to reduce unnecessary waste in construction materials on site.
Organizational Level Factors
Organizational factors shape how employees react and ultimately behave when faced by new interventions such as environmental sustainability. Our literature review identiﬁed several organizational factors that can inﬂuence the effectiveness of sustainability interventions. The factors cover environmental infrastructure, management support and organizational culture.
Our review also supported the idea that accessibility of equipment inﬂuences environmental practices. Physical lay- outs of the provisions can be critical in inﬂuencing employee behaviour.
For example, Holland et al. (2006) investigated two tools to change habitual behaviour of employees towards recycling. They used conscious planning followed by the installation of facilities and situational cues. They reported that the conscious planning of ‘where, when, and how to recycle’ improved the recycling habits of employees and that these were stable and observable after two months. Waste bin analysis indicated 75 and 80% more recycling of cups and paper respectively. This is supported by the work of Wu et al. (2013), who found a sustainable building with food composting and recycling facilities improved behaviour.
Similarly, based on the study of 38 organizations representing best travel planning in the UK, Cairns et al. (2010) discovered that pioneering practices among these case studies included better security for bikes (e.g. indi- vidual lockable parking stands and offering cycle insurance schemes), cycle equipment loans, site speciﬁc maps, ﬁnancial incentives and complimentary products. Several organizations also provided showers, changing and drying rooms, and locker facilities. Organizations that provided services such as free shuttle buses or cheap tickets for buses that connected local towns with bus or train stations achieved the greatest increase in public transport behaviour of employees. Infrastructural limitations such as limited bus services and distance between the bus stop and workplace can be improved by working in partnership with public transport operators and employees (Cairns et al., 2010).
Finally, Vanhouten et al. (1981) conducted experiments in two Canadian university buildings to reduce the use of lifts and as a consequence conserve energy. They reported that changing the setting of the lifts – that is increasing the time delay for lift doors to close – considerably reduced the number the employees travelling by lift and signif- icantly reduced the energy consumed by the three lifts, by 31, 29 and 33%. Their results suggest that convenience or infrastructure provided by organizations plays a vital role in changing employee behaviour toward environmental sustainability and that such techniques can be used to either increase or decrease target behaviour.
The attitude and direct personal involvement of top management and line managers and their ability to articulate why environmental sustainability is helpful to the organization is also vital. If senior management have a strong belief in and commitment to environmental sustainability they set an example for the rest of the employees (Cairns et al., 2010). For example, the success of travel plans at an organizational level has been shown to depend on the support by senior management leading by example, and with dedicated coordinators, targets, written plans and actions (Cairns et al., 2010). Also, in a comparative study of energy conservation in schools, Schelly et al. (2011) reported that charismatic lead- ership in one of the schools helped to reduce its energy consumption by 50%. The principal of the school conveyed his personal values and commitment towards environmental sustainability through initiating a programme called ’care and repair’. Through the programme he also set new behavioural expectations of employees and pupils. The school’s environmental science teacher also displayed good leadership qualities. He led and maintained recycling programmes and supported improvements in students’ self-efﬁcacy through involving them in these programmes.
In sum, employees are more likely to take responsibility for environmental sustainability practices if they get sufﬁ- cient support from above, and ‘green leadership’ in organizations is helpful to support environmental sustainability (Schwartz et al., 2010), as these leaders inspire cultural changes and are recognized by the employees (Jones et al., 2012).
There is only a little evidence that there is a relationship between organizational culture and sustainability, which is in line with the ﬁnding by Tudor et al. (2008). Organizational culture can be intangible, but possess exclusive lan- guage, which inﬂuences employee perception and enforces norms that are socially accepted. One way in which an organization could thus aim to inﬂuence behaviour through its culture is by environmental communication. In fact, an important ﬁnding identiﬁed in the literature is the means, quality and frequency of communication about envi- ronmental initiatives to employees. Employees might have mistaken beliefs about an organization’s policies and ideas and they can sometimes be ignorant about the initiatives taken by organizations to promote environmental sustainability. Environmental communication could thus potentially both change the culture and enable the visibil- ity of its environmental infrastructure and positive performance as a potential employee motivation (Onkila, 2013). In line with this, research by Schelly et al. (2011) on the comparison of energy conservation behaviour between two public schools reported communication as one of the factors explaining the more successful intervention at one school. Communication works with other aspects of change in organizations, not in isolation. Communication took place at several levels and conveyed behavioural expectations and success efforts. The school communicated its success through e-mails, posters, newspapers and announcements.
Policy and Economic Context
Our review revealed that one contextual factor that can inﬂuence the effectiveness of an employee behaviour change intervention is government policy. Government policy can potentially have a negative impact, for example through a favourable taxation policy encouraging company car use. Such a policy was shown to increase personal use of com- pany cars over and above personal use of a private car and hence increase transport emissions (Shiftan et al., 2012).
Presenting a Modiﬁed Framework
The new modiﬁed process framework of macro determinants for employee pro-environmental behaviour (e-PEB), as shown in Figure 2, is based on the limited research evidence available and hence should be seen as a next step in framework development rather than a complete and ﬁnal framework. It shows the factors that have strong evi- dence (boxes and arrows shown with emphasis) and limited evidence to support their positive inﬂuence on e-PEB.
Based on the available research, there are four broad categories that have been clearly shown to play a role in em- ployee behaviour change, namely individual level, group level, organizational level and external factors. Within these categories, speciﬁc factors that are important are as follows.
At the individual level.
- Employee environmental awareness is important in terms of being aware of the organization’s potential impacts and more importantly knowing their individual responsibility in helping to reduce this input. This included knowledge about recycling materials, methods of recycling and disposal processes (Boiral, 2005; Jones et al., 2012; Tudor et al., 2008) or reminders to turn off lights and computers (Schelly et al., 2011).
At the individual and group levels.
- Feedback is important both at the individual level (Staats et al., 2000) and group level (Carrico and Riemer, 2011; Siero et al., 1996). In particular, feedback regarding performance on an environmental initiative improves environmental performance signiﬁcantly more than general communication alone. Individual- or group-level feedback on targets act as an additional motivational and effective tool (Lingard et al., 2001) as well as opening a dialogue on performance (Schelly et al., 2011).
- Financial incentives for individuals and for groups of employees were also shown to have had a positive inﬂuence on This was focused on travelling less (Cairns et al., 2010) and wasting less/recycling more (Tam and Tam, 2008; Zhen et al., 2002).
At the organizational level.
- Provision of environmental infrastructure was important, including not only installing equipment such as recycling bins (Holland et al., 2006; Wu et al., 2013) or bicycle facilities (Cairns et al., 2010) but also other incen- tives such as better provision of bus services (Vanhouten et al., 1981).
- Management support from direct line supervisors as well as top management was shown to be essential in not only setting an example (Cairns et al., 2010) but also providing clear leadership (Jones et al., 2012; Schelly et al., 2011; Schwartz et al., 2010).
All other factors in the Tudor et al. (2008) framework do not currently have support from the current research using our selection criteria, and hence have less emphasis in our e-PEB framework.
We suggest that practitioners can use our e-PEB framework as a guide to the factors to focus on when designing a programme to inﬂuence e-PEB in their organizations. In an ideal world, a programme should include all factors in our e-PEB framework to maximize changes in the target environmental behaviour. In reality, limited staff and ﬁnan- cial resources are often available for environmental programmes, hence we recommend practitioners focus on the ﬁve important factors discussed above. An area that practitioners should probably avoid is allocating limited re- sources to changing employees’ attitudes through information and training, as further discussed below.
In summary, our review has highlighted the complexities involved in improving environmental performance through changing employee behaviour and that the underlying mechanisms and linkages require greater empirical examination. We have integrated ﬁndings stemming from an array of studies involving various EPIs to produce an e-PEB framework to capture supported techniques at the individual, group and organizational levels as well as exter- nal factors. This is a valuable step toward understanding the antecedents of environmental behaviour change in the workplace, contingent organizational conditions and potential efﬁcacious intervention techniques. Speciﬁcally, our review and integration of ﬁndings offer four major contributions to researchers and practitioners involved in this area. We outline these contributions below.
First, our e-PEB framework for changing employee environmental behaviour (see Figure 2) is for multi-environmental behaviours. We therefore signiﬁcantly expand the Tudor et al. (2008) framework that focused solely on waste behaviour. We also go beyond single behaviour efforts and consider the conditions that may support environmental behaviour in its broader sense, broadening both the theoretical and practical application of the framework. Practitioners could make use of our e-PEB framework when planning employee behaviour change initiatives, focusing efforts on the factors that have received greatest empirical support. By focusing our analysis on interventions and programmes that achieved real EPI change, practitioners can have increased conﬁdence that the factors identiﬁed as efﬁcacious have demonstrable practical impact. This will, in our view, create conditions for changes in behaviour and as a consequence, improvements in environmental performance.
Second, we have based our e-PEB framework on research evidence that measured actual environmental perfor- mance, rather than relying on problematic self-reported performance. Research approaches that focus on actual be- haviour are needed if future efforts are to adequately distinguish between the interventions that are effective and those that are less effective for improving the environmental bottom-line. This is a methodological issue, as many additional studies may have resulted in environmental performance improvement but unfortunately they did not record EPI data and were therefore excluded from our analysis. Although the existing studies provide a good starting point in identifying some of the key antecedents for effective e-PEB initiatives, there is a strong need for further re- search to enhance and extend our e-PEB framework.
Individual, Group and Organizational and External Level Factors
Our third contribution is that we have developed an e-PEB framework that shows four distinct levels: namely indi- vidual or employee level factors; groups of employees (e.g. in operational units or ﬂoors of buildings); organizational level particularly on management support and environmental infrastructure and ﬁnally external factors such as spill- over of environmental actions from home. The combination of these levels provides a powerful route toward chang- ing behaviour, particularly by encouraging the targeting of behavioural antecedents at multiple levels. This goes beyond more micro-level conceptualizations of environmental behaviour change (Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012).
In the domestic and consumer context strong environmental attitudes are generally needed before environmental behaviours occur (Young et al., 2010). A key ﬁnding from this review is that attitude change is not necessarily a pre-requisite for behaviour change, which is contrary to recent ﬁndings by Bissing-Olson et al. (2013). It should be noted, however, that Bissing-Olson et al. (2013) did not measure actual environmental performance resulting from behaviour. The strength of environmental attitude may be important in determining behavioural intention or self-reported behaviour. Our results, however, suggest that attitude change is not a prerequisite for behaviour change. We have found that environmental behaviour change may be achieved when employees are aware of envi- ronmental issues/policies and are provided with the practical or procedural knowledge regarding sustainable ac- tions, even in the absence of techniques directed at attitude change. In other words, once employees know why and how to switch off machines at the end of shifts they may do so even without having pro-environmental attitudes, because of the work structure, systems, culture and rewards for doing so.
Implications for Environmental Business Strategy
The ﬁndings from our review suggest that employees within an organization should have a clear and meaningful inﬂuence on the development of business strategy, which includes environmental issues. This will provide the or- ganization’s leadership with information on the barriers and motivators of the workforce in product/service provi- sion. As a result, the culture and awareness of the majority of employees should be more amenable to implementing the strategy. The environmental strategy typology developed by Albino et al. (2009) is a useful way of expanding on the implications of the e-PEB framework on environmental business strategy; see Table 3.
Recommendations for Business Managers
Sustainability or CSR programmes need to be integrated into core business functions such as human resource man- agement (HRM) and organizational management structures. This is critical if any proactive sustainability strategy is to be successful for the majority of the workforce rather than just those with positive pro-environmental attitudes. Hence we take the strongest factors in the e-PEB framework, as follows.
- Environmental awareness should be the focus of training and information rather than attitudinal changes. Furthermore, a focus at the group level as well as the individual level may be more effective. Although this may be more resource intensive, it has been shown to be effective in areas such as quality and safety.
- Traditional ﬁnancial reward structures in the organization should incorporate and be focused towards environ- mental issues, which will again incentivize the majority of employees rather than the motivated safety.
- Environmental responsibilities should be incorporated into organizational management structures so that em- ployees see that these are important to the organization and to their own line managers.
- The biggest task the sustainability team should take responsibility for is the feedback of environmental perfor- mance data to the group level and the individual level. These data should not be just general organizational- level performance but rather be focused on each group and if possible also on individuals. The individual focus could be on managers, team leaders and staff in key roles, such as buildings operational staff, operators of key equipment and HRM staff.
In general, the research evidence we have identiﬁed provides valuable insights into workplace environmental behav- iour change; however, there is also a need for further high quality ﬁeld studies measuring EPIs to speciﬁcally ad- dress this area. We highlight the following three speciﬁc areas that would beneﬁt from immediate research.
- Individual factors such as levels of education (Ghosal, 2013).
- Group factors that inﬂuence behaviour at the department, site, task, ﬂoor or building level, particularly for large organizations with multiple sites and operations.
- The impact of organizational culture on e-PEB change initiatives, particularly investigations that examine em- ployee motivation and job satisfaction, including human resource management practices (Celma et al., 2012; Zhu et al., 2012). Inﬂuences of a gender and ethnically diverse workforce (Ciocirlan and Pettersson, 2012).
- Examining the extent to which the external factors encourage or limit sustainable behaviours at the workplace are different from those in a home or community settings, e.g. geographical, economic and cultural inﬂuences. A signiﬁcantly higher number of studies are available that examine such initiatives in a home or community set- ting. There may therefore be important lessons from those settings that are applicable to workplace settings.
To conclude, our review has highlighted the potential for behavioural interventions within the workplace to de- liver demonstrable environmental beneﬁts, as measured in the form of EPIs. Our e-PEB framework integrates the research ﬁndings, illustrating the inﬂuence of pre-existing organizational structures and processes inherent within the workplace and their relationship in supporting employee environmental behaviour. These organiza- tional-level factors provide additional complexity to the situation, but also an extra set of levers and approaches with which to target employee environmental behaviour change. It is these contextual factors that we believe open up an exciting and challenging ﬁeld of enquiry for environmental researchers and practitioners alike. However, our ability to develop new theoretical insights, or to develop more sophisticated practical guidance for business, is constrained by the continuing neglect of the work context in favour of domestic settings. The time is right for a concerted drive by our community to match the current interest shown by organizations to improve their environmental perfor- mance with a fresh wave of research targeting this domain.
We are grateful to the World Universities Network for funding the ‘Greening Organisations and Work (GROW)’ network, of which this paper is an output. We are also grateful to the School of Earth and Environment and Socio-Technical Centre at the University of Leeds for funding the initial evidence review, which was the basis for this paper.
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