15 May 2015

Research from The OU Business School reveals why organisations should tap into the values of employees

Speaking to an audience of 40 local business leaders at a Business Network Briefing event at The Open University (OU) this week, Dr Sarah Williams, associate lecturer at the OU Business School (OUBS), explained the benefits of understanding and responding to the values of their workforce when trying to engage them in the implementation of green initiatives related to climate change.

Her findings are based on the Schwartz Value Survey, 2006, which suggests that individuals are born with a set of ten values that influence motivations and behaviour throughout life. We learn to prioritise particular values through early socialisation, which go on to affect our goals, decisions and actions.

“Tapping into the values of individual employees helps to overcome internal tensions by giving you a better understanding of what motivates them, resulting in a more satisfied workforce and the ability to implement necessary changes,” said Dr Williams.

Discussing the results of a seven year research programme, Dr Williams, who is also an associate of the Sustainable Business Company, advised the audience to re-frame the story of climate change, rather than expect employees to change their values. She added that the same rationale applies to other initiatives involving cultural change in an organisation.

Commenting on the talk, attendee, Trevor Warrs, Interim Finance Manager, said: “The results of Dr William’s values research in relation to climate change are very interesting. You can take the same approach and apply it to other scenarios in the workplace where people might be resistant to change. I am a regular attendee at these events and not only do I always learn something new to take away with me but it’s also a great opportunity to network with people from the Milton Keynes business community.”

During the question and answer session, Dr Williams was joined by her colleague, Dr Anja Schaefer, senior lecturer in management at OUBS.

Dr Williams provides advice about sustainability and implementing green initiatives to a range of businesses and organisations in the local area, including the Bedfordshire Green Business Network.

The next Business Network Breakfast Briefing takes place at the Open University, Walton Hall, on Tuesday 7 July, between 8am and 10am. The speaker will be Dr Andrew Lindridge, senior lecturer in marketing at the OU Business School. There is no charge to attend but pre-booking is essential. A hot breakfast buffet will be served at 8am.

For further information, or to register for a place, email, or call +44 (0) 1908 332007., @OUBSchool

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