“Employees are a critical part of the whole sustainability initiative.” – Harry Pfaff (Verizon)
Pfaff’s quote signals some of the Verizon’s sustainability initiatives. With “Go Green” website, Verizon employees make suggestions about the sustainability strategies of the company (Daniels, 2010). Verizon is not the only company which recognizes the importance of employee participation in sustainability initiatives. Intel’s and eBay’s green teams organize volunteer sustainability projects in the workplace and encourage employees to participate in them (Fleisher, 2009). Whether you agree with Pfaff’s ideas or not, there is a long list of companies following this principle. E&Y’s survey reveals ...view middle of the document...
Aligned with the prior research that discovered positive effects of corporate social responsibility on organizational commitment (Turker, 2009), and on the attractiveness to job seekers (Turban & Greening, 1997), recent studies have focused on the positive impacts of sustainability practices on employee outcomes. However, I argue that the increasing pressure for “green behavior” has also some negative impacts on an important employee related outcome – job satisfaction.
Despite the growing consensus that sustainability leads to positive employee outcomes, in this study, I try to understand the dark side of the coin. Capgemini (2008) survey presents that employees are forced to be seen to be green by their coworkers. Effectiveness of peer pressure in green behavior is also stressed in the media (Corner, 2010; NSF, 2009). These facts raise doubts about this issue. Using and extending the conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989), and Bell’s (1985) disappointment theory, I analyze and empirically test the indirect effects of employee participation in sustainability initiatives on the employee job satisfaction through the workplace stress and through the expectations from the workplace.
This study has important theoretical and practical contributions. First, it makes us question our taken-for-granted knowledge about the positive effects of sustainability in the workplace. Second, extending the conservation of resources theory, I consider the resources gained by the behaviors that have become norms. In this case, these behaviors do not result in a gain of the related resources, while their absence results in the loss of the resources. In this study, I argue that being green becomes a norm in the workplace because of the peer pressure effect in environmental behavior. Third, it extends the literature on sustainability and recruitment by analyzing the effect of employee expectations during the recruitment process on the job satisfaction. Finally, this study has important managerial contributions. Companies try to engage employees in their sustainability initiatives. Understanding its negative effects on job satisfaction is important in order to prevent employee turnovers (Porter, Steers, Mowday, & Boulian, 1974).
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Bell, D. E. (1985). Disappointment in Decision Making Under Uncertainty. Operations Research, 33(1), 1–27. doi:10.1287/opre.33.1.1
Capgemini. (2008). Workers under pressure to be seen to be green. Capgemini United Kingdom. Retrieved February 17, 2014,...