January 10, 2022
Research from?PLAY, a product development studio, suggests that more than three-quarters of people (77 percent) want the company they work for to be more transparent about their environmental impact.
With the climate emergency firmly in the public psyche, the study found that employees are sceptical about their employer’s sustainability initiatives. Overall, only 14 percent of those surveyed believed that companies’ sustainability initiatives were ‘always’ impactful or genuine. This fell to under one in 10 (9 percent) for general employees, compared with over a third (34 percent) of business leaders, suggesting business leaders may be overestimating the environmental impact and value of their existing green initiatives for employees.
The findings were revealed as part of a new report by PLAY, titled,?Corporate climate crisis: why businesses need to support employees in making sustainable behavioural changes. For the report, PLAY surveyed 1,000 UK-based employees, split between 750 general employees and 250 business leaders/Chief Sustainability Officers, about their views on sustainability initiatives in business.
The business leader disconnect?
While there is a discrepancy between employees’ and business leaders’ views on whether existing sustainability initiatives are impactful, the study showed a consensus between both groups when it came to how best to support the fight against the climate emergency. Overall, 77 percent of those surveyed agreed that major behaviour changes are necessary to ensure individuals, companies and countries achieve their sustainability goals. This figure was as high as 90 percent of those in the legal sector, 88 percent of those working in finance, and 84 percent of those in IT. Business leaders (85 percent) were also more likely than CSOs (79 percent) and employees (75 percent) to agree, implying that behaviour change is a priority on companies’ radar.
While business leaders want to support in improving sustainability goals and initiatives, the research shows there is a disconnect between their actions and words. While 82 percent of business leaders say they agree that their organisation should support employees to make sustainable decisions and display sustainable behaviours, only 38 percent of employees said that their company provides them with the tools and resources to build sustainable habits, and 22 percent don’t know if those resources are available to them.
Furthermore, when queried on if their company asks or surveys employees on the areas of sustainability they see as most important and on how they perceive the company’s progress on sustainability, only 46 percent of business leaders said they survey on which areas are important, 34 percent said they survey on how employees perceive the company’s sustainability progress, and only 13 percent survey on both.
Innovative strategies needed?
The data suggests a clear desire among employees for their company to provide more tools to help them act sustainably, and to engage them more in the process of defining and measuring sustainability targets. At the same time, employers clearly need to do more to make their efforts impactful.
When asked about what strategies they think would be most effective in achieving their company’s sustainability goals, 39 percent of business leaders and CSOs thought behavioural design tools, such as gamification, would be an effective strategy. For CSOs in particular, this was the most effective strategy (47 percent), followed by integrating sustainability into key performance indicators and appraisal processes (44 percent), and internal communication clearly communicating sustainability goals and agenda (38 percent).