How to improve an organization’s environmental performance

How can managers be brought to understand the importance of psychological factors in encouraging employees to adopt environmentally responsible behaviors in order to improve the environmental performance of organizations? This is the research goal of Virginie Francoeur, assistant professor in social sciences at Polytechnique Montréal.

In a research project she conducted with Pascal Paillé, tenured professor at NEOMA Business School in France,she found that changing employee behaviors in favor of environmentally responsible practices in the workplace requires certain key conditions.. These include empowerment and support from the organization or from superiors. Establishing dialogue, developing a relationship of trust and empowering employees to act and to propose key solutions are conditions but also opportunities for organizations to increase their environmental performance.

We invite you to discover the researcher behind this study and what motivated her to undertake this project.

Why did you decide to do this research, what were your goals?

Faced with the global warming emergency, our objective is to raise awareness of the need to adopt eco-responsible behavior. The context of overexploitation of natural resources and increasing atmospheric pollution has led to a weakening of our ecosystems, and the most important causes of this degradation are anthropogenic, they’re caused by humans. Thus, research on the behavior of humans and their activities is becoming essential.

Since the impact of the non-residential sector (e.g. service sectors, industries) is significantly higher than the residential sector, it is crucial to conduct research in workplaces; these continue to be neglected in comparison to residential settings. Organizations must be part of the solution!

In the workplace, environmental management policies and practices (e.g., ISO standards, certification) are essential, but they do not systematically lead to behavioral change. So we chose to examine the influence of psychological variables (social support and empowerment); our results show that they play an important role in encouraging people to adopt environmentally responsible behaviors at work.

Why did you choose to publish the results through an infographic?

To reach a wider audience and raise awareness among researchers, students, managers and citizens. A scientific article can sometimes be too dry for the general public, whereas an infographic, by its attractive character, can appeal to individuals beyond the academic community. Indeed, scientific articles are not accessible to everyone, whereas eco-responsible behaviors affect us all. It is therefore essential to broaden the reach of our research results to ensure a fluid circulation of knowledge and observe a real change in society.

Employes et écoresponsabilite
Click on the image to view the PDF version

What other plans do you have for communicating your research?

Last April, we published the book “Green behaviors in the Workplace” with Sprigner Nature. (in the Palgrave Macmillan social sciences collection). This book, written with Professor Pascal Paillé, is based on a chapter of my PhD thesis. For this research, we reviewed articles on environmentally responsible behavior in the workplace, published over a period of 43 years (1977 to 2020), in order to provide the most exhaustive picture of the situation (definitions of environmentally responsible behavior, means of measuring it, drivers and obstacles to the adoption of these behaviors, geographical and methodological trends, future prospects…).  The mobilization of the majority of employees is crucial, as they are on the front line and the use of their knowledge is essential to the proper use of resources towards the preservation of ecosystems. We have therefore proposed a series of behaviors related to the green identity of individuals (lax ecologist, indifferent ecologist, eco-altruist and eco-activist) to increase their environmental commitment.

In addition, since the beginning of the year, I have been a columnist for “Reflet de société”. My mandate is to popularize my research on ecology in the workplace to a public aged 12 to 92. This magazine is distributed in schools, community organizations and various places of social reflection, which gives me the opportunity to reach a new audience.

On a practical level, I prioritize field research, so I can have a direct impact in the workplace. Recently, the environmental organization Équiterre asked us to collaborate on a Canada-wide study on zero waste among consumers and grocery stores. My colleague, Sophie Bernard, a circular economy specialist, and I are leading this project at Polytechnique Montréal. Three doctoral students, Joliann Morisette, Marie Bellemare and Valérie Patreau, as well as Valérie Demers, project manager at the Réseau de recherche en économie circulaire du Québec (RRECQ), are part of the research team. This is one of the most motivating projects I have had the chance to work on. Soon, our results will be transformed in a creative way. To be continued…

For more information: Does the subject of eco-responsible behavior compel you? Would you like to learn more about Virginie Francoeur’s projects?

Contact her directly: [email protected]or on Linkedin

For any question related to infographics, contact us: [email protected]

Cet article vous a plu? En voici d'autres!

Science podcast: Deciphering
Podcasts are exploding and have become THE new way to...
Best practices for podcast production
While it's true that you can launch a podcast with...
The 6Cs of science popularization
What should you consider when preparing to do science outreach...
How to improve an organization’s environmental performance
How can managers be brought to understand the importance of...