The Emergence of Employees' Change Readiness for Energy-Conservation Behavior During Guided Group Discussions
Studies of energy conservation efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in the residential sector are abundant; however similar efforts in organizations have not received as much attention as they deserve. In this study, we focus on methods for increasing employees' readiness to change their behaviors in favor of energy conservation, specifically examining the use of guided group discussions (GGDs). We use observational research methods to examine the micro-level of behavioral dynamics and understand the emergence of change readiness. We describe how facilitators ("change agents") can conduct GGDs and foster employees' change readiness using the established communication approach of Motivational Interviewing (MI). We also explore how employees can increase each other's change readiness regarding energy conservation behavior. Based on our sample of eight videotaped GGDs (5430 behavioral events), interaction analysis reveals that solution-focused communication elicits change readiness in employees, whereas problem-focused communication prompts resistance to change. We further show that employees can motivate their co-workers to express "green" intentions: when employees verbalized statements in favor of energy saving, this increased other employees' change readiness, while verbalized statements against energy saving had the opposite effect. This demonstrates that GGD participants are active individuals who can spark behavior change in their co-workers. Finally, based on our findings we propose several communication guidelines for working with groups and discuss the importance of solution-focused energy management practices to facilitate change readiness for energy saving in the workplace.