Inspired Workforce

Source: Pixabay

By: Marie Donlon

Employers that show commitment to environmental and local causes will likely inspire their employees to take up such causes as well, according to a new study.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of Business Ethics, researchers found that employees who worked for environmentally and socially responsible companies were likelier to engage in environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible behaviors such as volunteering in their communities.

"When you identify with a group, you tend to adopt its values and goals as your own," says Kenneth De Roeck, assistant professor at the University of Vermont. "For example, if you are a fan who identifies with the New England Patriots, their objective to win the Super Bowl becomes your objective too. If they win it, you will say 'we,' rather than 'they,' won the Super Bowl, because being a fan of the New England Patriots became part of your own identity."

A not-so-surprising consequence, however, of believing that a person’s direct supervisor behaves unethically will have the opposite effect, according to the study, and employees will be less likely to take part in environmental and community volunteer initiatives.

“When morally loaded cues stemming from the organization and its leaders are inconsistent, employees become skeptical about the organization's ethical stance, integrity, and overall character," says De Roeck. "Consequently, employees refrain from identifying with their employers, and as a result, significantly diminish their engagement in creating social and environmental good."

One possible solution to encourage employee engagement in environmental and socially-responsible behaviors is to make sure that all actions to that end are consistent company-wide.

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