Professors Virginie Francoeur and Pascal Paillé hired postdoctoral fellow Prisca Ayassamy to conduct an exploratory review of ecoanxiety in the workplace. Discover the summary of their work.
Ecoanxiety is a growing phenomenon. According to a survey of 10,000 people in Quebec conducted by professors at the Université de Sherbrooke, 49.7% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they had experienced at least one manifestation of ecoanxiety, compared with 26% of the general population (Landaverde & Généreux, 2021).
Ecoanxiety can lead to undesirable behaviors at work for the individual, the organization and its members: difficulty making decisions, hostile behavior, absenteeism, intentions to resign. It is therefore pertinent to ask whether initiatives exist in the workplace to deal with ecoanxiety.
Little research has been done on ecoanxiety in the workplace. No studies have looked at how to deal specifically with this psychological and physical discomfort in the workplace. To remedy this, we carried out an exploratory literature review on ecoanxiety in the workplace. We used an intervention model, Kurt Lewin’s three-stage model of organizational change, to propose practices aimed at reducing ecoanxiety.
Lewin’s model of change is promising. It provides guidelines for reducing eco-anxiety at work. The first stage (decrystallizing) involves becoming aware of the ecoanxiety problem and the importance of taking action; the second stage (instituting change) involves finding solutions in the work environment, such as increasing social support, training, creating green spaces and promoting environmentally-friendly behavior through circular economy practices; and the third stage (recrystallizing) aims to stabilize this change: integrating new practices, offering feedback and recognition. These practices send out a clear message: the organization is demonstrating its concern and commitment to the environment, which may ease eco-anxiety. The environmental practices put forward by the organization can reduce uncertainty thanks to a better understanding of environmental issues and an increased sense of competence in the face of these challenges, thus encouraging concrete action to tackle climate issues.