Find it hard to get motivated at the office? Wondering how to encourage more productivity from your employees? A new study led by researchers at UCLA suggests that companies which adopt green operating practices enjoy a higher level of worker productivity. The research examined the green standards and employee productivity levels at over 5,000 French companies.
When compared to companies not actively pursuing sustainable goals or producing eco-friendly products, employees of green companies were found to be 16 times more productive. According to the research team, these results fail to substantiate the common complaint that sustainable standards stifle business.
While many studies have measured profitability or brand perception, this is the first time an international study has examined how a firm’s environmental commitment affects its productivity. Working together with Sanja Pekovic from France’s University Paris–Dauphine, Professor Magali Delmas, an environmental economist at UCLA‘s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, randomly selected two employees from each company, for a total of around 10,000 participants. “Green” companies were those that voluntarily adopted international standards and eco-labels such as “fair trade” and “organic” or the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14001 certification.
Although there can be some criticism that those criteria don’t necessarily make a company green, the difference in employee productivity can’t be denied. The researchers discovered a difference of one standard deviation, which corresponded to 16 percent higher-than-average labor productivity, in firms that voluntarily adopted environmental standards. They also found that employees at green companies got more training and had better interactions with co-workers.
“It’s a counterpoint to people thinking that environmental practices are detrimental to the firm,” Delmas said. “Green practices make a company more attractive because so many employees want to work for a company that is green, but we also argue in this paper that it’s more than just wanting to work there — it’s working more.”