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We were already talking about them in 2018, but they have become significantly more numerous in 2024. The neologism “écotafeurs” designates employees mobilized to commit their company to the path of ecological transition, by organizing internal awareness workshops.
They were born between the 1980s and 2000s and are generally executive employees. But above all, they are among those who seek meaning in their work and, more particularly, ensure that the job they hold and the company in which they do it are in line with their ecological values. We call them “ecotacafeurs”.
Employees committed to protecting the environment
A nickname given by the sociologist Gaëtan Brisepierre, who has just published a survey on the subject, financed by Ademe and relayed by the media The Conversation. At first glance, the state of mind of these employees may recall that of the followers of “climate quitting” (giving up a position out of ecological conviction). Except that the ecotaféurs do not plan to leave the ship. The credo of these committed and loyal workers towards their company? Move the lines from the inside!
The study by Gaëtan Brisepierre was carried out in twelve French companies (mostly large) in the spring of 2023. According to the results, the initial motivation of eco-tafers often comes from an individual ecological awareness, linked to a significant experience such as a trip, containment measures linked to the Covid-19 pandemic or even changes in their personal lives. And if they do not choose to resign, it is because they are convinced that their actions will have more weight if they get involved within their company rather than in other spheres (associative, entrepreneurial , politics, etc.), since that’s where they spend more time!
But the challenge is significant: it is not always easy to involve all your colleagues in such a process, even when the stakes are so important. The key word? Pedagogy ! Many eco-tafers do not hesitate to call on associations or use awareness tools designed for businesses, like the famous Climate Fresco or the 2 Ton workshop. However, this is only a gateway to more impactful actions in the long term. One of the main missions of ecotafers is to convince those responsible (most often the CSRs) of the services or the hierarchy to allocate a budget to the ecological transition of society.
Grant an “ecological time credit” to employees
The survey is clear: participating in these measures nourishes the quest for meaning at work and strengthens attachment to the company. But several obstacles remain and are likely to hinder the mobilization of these employees who are invested and committed in the long term. Starting with the lack of time, these activities are still too little considered as inherent to the responsibilities and position of ecotaféurs. “The most committed almost never have time dedicated by the employer, which constitutes a brake on mobilization. They manage to get around it in hidden time or through training, at the risk of running out of breath. The question of an ecological time credit that the company could grant to its employees therefore deserves to be asked“, explains Gaëtan Brisepierre in his paper published by The Conversation.
The report also notes a more recalcitrant stance on the part of certain managers on the issue, some associating these moments of awareness with “wastes of time”. “Business models remain a glass ceiling for ecological mobilization. Employees are increasingly demanding a right of expression on business strategies, but are still little heard by managers”, notes Gaëtan Brisepierre. Fortunately, some team leaders, on the contrary, perceive the missions of ecotafers as activities which contribute to “strengthening team cohesion“, notes the study. And this is a key point to develop, since “the support of managers for the systems increases the impact of internal mobilization”, underlines the study.