Impact of a University Environmental Sustainability Strategy on Employees
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The ever-growing trend of campus sustainability, coupled with pressure from external stakeholders (competitor actions, government regulations, etc.) induces organizations to adopt sustainability and its triple bottom line framework to enhance their overall competitive advantage. Conversely, the pressure motivates management to focus more on secondary stakeholders’ and biophysical environmental needs and wants, while little attention is given to the most important internal stakeholder or driver for the organizations’ sustainability initiatives success – namely, the employee. Institutions’ expectations from environmental and social responsibility initiatives, and how employees perceive them and become engaged throughout the process has been and continues to be a challenge for organizations to overcome. Thus, and for the first time, this thesis describes the impact of an environmental sustainability strategy, its relation to institutions’ expectations, its effect on employees’ participation and engagement, and establishes that employees are the needed transformative radical change approach that can shed light on the “disconnect” between institutions’ expectations (e.g., desired image and reduced cost) and employees’ participation and engagement. To address the gap, a survey was sent to 75 members of the Green Office Ambassador network (representing 1,700 employees) at the University of Waterloo to assess employees’ role, their knowledge, well-being, and perceived value of the campus environmental sustainability strategy, then the study objectively analyzed relevant relationships and found employees who read the report are more likely to participate in the strategy. The increase in job expectations variable affects employees overall job satisfaction levels, and this aligns with findings of other scholars. However, financial incentives do not affect employees’ participation and engagement, and this debunks other scholarly findings. Lastly, the result collectively revealed a high number of employees disagreed with the current collaboration and communication practices, and never participated in the action plans. Recommendations are presented from a sustainability management perspective to bridge the gap.
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Ray Westwood (2020). Impact of a University Environmental Sustainability Strategy on Employees. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16177
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