"The results of the analysis indicate a significant positive relationship between employee satisfaction and level of perceived environmental performance," the study concludes. "This study does not find a significant relationship between employee satisfaction and firm financial value."
The study, which began has Walsh's undergraduate honors program project, appeared in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Review. The study analyzes data on employee satisfaction and perceived environmental responsibility from 113 companies and thousands of employees. The same test was repeated using the employee satisfaction data and company financial performance metrics.
"The big take-away is that companies with a greener reputation are much more likely to have satisfied employees,'' Sulkowski said. "The strength of that relationship is remarkable. There was no relationship found between financial performance and employee satisfaction, which makes sense when one considers that a company's financial performance may improve when it streamlines and lays off people.''
Walsh, who began the research with Prof. Sulkowski as an undergraduate honors student and graduated in May, 2010, said, "Businesses are continuously looking for low cost ways to improve employee satisfaction. What better method than by increasing environmental performance and communicating it to the workforce? By increasing a company's perception of environmental performance the business wins, and the employees win."
Now a human resources coordinator at EMC Corporation in Hopkinton, Walsh said, "I couldn't be more proud of the research Professor Sulkowski and I have completed and published. It began as an assignment for the UMass Dartmouth Honors Program and developed into something much more than I could have imagined. It was a lot of hard work, but the payoff has definitely been worth it."
Sulkowski said the findings should encourage managers and owners of businesses to invest in credibly communicating about their sustainability and social responsibility efforts. He noted that UMass Dartmouth MBA students recently produced a sustainability report that achieves the highest level of compliance with the Global Reporting Initiative's G3 standard, used by a majority of the Global Fortune 250 to gauge environmental success. UMass Dartmouth is the first university in the world to have achieved this benchmark. "UMass Dartmouth is a good role model," he said.
Noting the undergraduate research opportunities offered by UMass, Walsh added, "My experience at UMass Dartmouth has been invaluable. I have worked with students and faculty who have challenged me and provided me with skills that I can apply both academically and within the business world. The four years I've spent at UMass Dartmouth have provided me with a sense of fulfillment."
UMass Dartmouth is the only research university located south of Boston. Its $26 million research enterprise offers undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to work with faculty conducting cutting edge research in economics, business, marketing, life science, marine science, engineering, education, criminal justice, health care, the arts, and dozens of other fields.