An organization’s success in becoming a truly sustainable company depends on its ability to empower and incentivize its employees to integrate sustainability into their day-to-day activities and decision-making. However, little is known about the factors that influence small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) employees to engage in the adoption of sustainability practices.
Therefore, the objective of this exploratory study is to provide insights into the interactions between employers and their employees with regard to sustainable actions in the workplace. It explores the employee’s perspective on the adoption of sustainable practices in three types of organizations: an SME, a multinational corporation (MNC), and a nonprofit. The study compares employees’ perceptions of these three types of organizations and suggests an introductory basic model that supports employees’ adoption of sustainable practices in SMEs, which includes both internal (e.g., preexisting values) and external (organizational and second party support) factors in employees’ motivations to adopt sustainable practices. Because sustainability is multidimensional, this study encompasses established organizational (prosocial and intent theory), innovation, systems thinking, sustainability and entrepreneurship theories.
The study is exploratory and thus is not intended to test established theoretical framework but rather draws on established theory to propose a possible new theoretical model that applies to SMEs specifically. This descriptive research is designed as a mixed-method to explore which variables influence SME, MNC and nonprofit employees to adopt sustainable practices (SP).
The current study confirms the theory that employees’ preexisting values are important influences on the adoption of sustainable practices. I therefore test the following hypothesis – Is there a significant relationship between employees’ preexisting values and their motivation to adopt sustainable practices? For example, in SMEs, there is a significant correlation between employees’ preexisting values and their motivation to adopt sustainable practices. Employees confirm that they adopt sustainable practices at work mainly because they care about the environment and the community.