Perceived Support

supportIn order to adopt sustainable behaviours and decisions, employees need to know they have a mandate to do so, and the support from their managers and peers. The social norm is a powerful driver of sustainable action – if people feel that other’s are on board, they are more likely to jump on the bandwagon.

Research on this enabler…

  • Research by Ramus and Steger found that supervisory support behaviours had a significant impact on employee engagement in sustainability initiatives
  • In Canadian research, a group of university staff and students who were told that their colleagues had reduced their car use by 25% decreased their own car commuting by 5 times compared to baseline.
  • Carrico and Riemer evaluated the success of a program to motivate workplace energy conservation and found that feedback and peer education resulted in energy reduction of 7% and 4% respectively.

Strategies for improving this enabler…

  • Train supervisors and line managers in providing support for sustainability-related innovations and behaviours
  • Create clear and consistent guidelines supporting employees to make sustainability-based decisions. Are we allowed to spend an extra 20%  to buy recycled paper?
  • Consistently report sustainability wins and achievements, reinforcing the perception that progress is being made and that people are getting on board
  • Include sustainability items in team meetings, emphasising the importance and momentum for sustainability
  • Create opportunities for people to come together around sustainability. Examples include competitions, Ride-to-work days and sustainability challenges
  • Consider setting up team learning and peer support groups for sustainability initiatives, rather than assigning responsibility to individuals

Best Practice Examples…

  • Mater Hospital in Brisbane takes a research-based approach to encouraging sustainability and energy conservation. Measures include over 3000 staff signing an environmental sustainability pledge, and regular presentations on sustainability issues.
  • Rochester University is another who uses pledges as a way of encouraging a team approach to sustainability
  • University Hospitals of Northeast Ohio consistently emphasises support for sustainability to its employees, with regular competitions, promotions and pledges creating the sense that the whole organisation is behind sustainability efforts

How Awake can help…

  • Awake can advise on engagement strategies and tactics to increase employee’s sense that sustainability is part of the norm and culture of the organisation
  • The Sustainability Culture Indicator includes a scale on Perceived Support, allowing you to measure the extent to which employees feel they are supported to engage with sustainability, including comparisons with other organisations

Other useful resources…