Perceived Control

controlPeople need to feel that they have control over their actions at work in order to adopt new, more sustainable behaviours. They also need to feel like those changes will make a difference to their own footprint and those of the organisation.

Research on this enabler…

  • A 2007 meta-analysis found that perceived behavioural control was among the strongest determinants of both intention to perform pro-environmental behaviours and actual performance of them.
  • A 1999 US study found that “personal control was significantly related to total environmentally
    friendly behaviors and four of the five dimensions that made up this measure”

Strategies for improving this enabler…


  • Demonstrate to people how the cumulative effects of individual actions can make a big difference e.g “if everybody shut down their computer at night we would save $X in energy costs”
  • Work with employees to identify actions they can take in order to contribute to the sustainability goals of the team and organisation. Consider having a sustainability action in everyone’s performance development plan
  • Brainstorm with teams to create a map of each position’s environmental impact and actions that can reduce it
  • Real-time feedback on resource usage and sustainability outcomes can empower people by allowing them to see the impact of their efforts
  • Report and celebrate wins which demonstrate that people’s efforts are making a difference

Best Practice Examples…

  • Rosie Maternity Hospital in Wales saved a significant amount of energy after posting signs such as  “Two lights switched on all the time would power a fetal sonicade machine for an entire year,” and, “Leaving your computer on uses more energy than a urodynamic machine.”
  • Arup’s Office Realtime is a dashboard which provides data to guide sustainability-related behaviour change. Employees can see how the firm is doing on sustainability goals such as paper use and transport emissions, which can support them to make changes and see the impact.
  • Starbucks installed energy consumption meters in a selection of stores in order to help employees to identify ways to save energy.

How Awake can help…

  • The Sustainability Culture Indicator give you feedback on whether people feel they have the power to contribute to the sustainability goals of the organisation. Written comments in the SCI ask what people perceive as the main barriers and fustrations
  • Awake can help you to design and facilitate workshops in which teams identify and commit to the actions they can take to make a difference. Drawing on the psychology of empowerment and self-efficacy, we can create a process which will have people confident and willing to contribute

Other useful resources…