Two Kinds of Environmental Professionals – And How to Engage Them

Angie - Test Knowles, | September-16-11



2 Kinds of Environmental Professionals - and How to Engage Them


What is the best way to elicit employee excellence? Effective strategies to address this dilemma are absolutely critical to business success. Competent, highly-engaged workers are the ultimate sources of innovative thinking, client satisfaction and product development that can set a company that excels apart from one that struggles.

Simply hiring the “right” professional with appropriate skills and qualifications is not enough. As noted in the recent blog posting, Why Your Employees Don’t Care and What You Can Do About It, even a talented, highly qualified employee can underperform in an organization if the optimal engagement practices are not in place.

So if strong employee engagement strategies produce powerful effects, what it is that differentiates a great practice from a not-so-great one? One major distinction is in the degree to which engagement strategies have been tailored to support the different career development needs of employees. Not all employees are the same, so neither should be their corresponding engagement plans. 

In an exploration of employee engagement needs, ECO Canada’s 2009 Characteristics of Canadian Environmental Practitioners uncovered two distinct employee profiles. These two kinds of environmental professionals differed according to their levels of job responsibility, education and years in the workforce. By extension, certain engagement practices were a particularly good fit for each of these two types.

Here’s a brief overview of the two environmental professional profiles from the study, along with tips for how to best tailor an engagement plan for them:

Profile 1: Less Experienced Professionals

Environmental practitioners in this profile were more likely to be younger, with junior level responsibilities, a lower comparative salary and fewer years of experience in the labour force. More environmental professionals in this profile were also likely to have lived in Canada less than 5 years, to have pursued post-secondary education in order to make the transition to the environmental sector, and to spend less of their work time performing environment-related activities.

Environmental professionals in this category faced a number of employment challenges. They were more likely to have been laid off by their previous employer, to be currently looking for employment and to take longer in their job search.

How to Engage Them

In light of some of the career challenges that less experienced professionals face, employers can support the career development of these employees by developing strategies that:

  • Create networking opportunities
  • Develop avenues to connect directly with environmental employers
  • Provide mentorship opportunities with more experienced employees
  • Offer training programs


Profile 2: More Experienced Professionals

In contrast to Profile 1 practitioners, professionals in this category are more likely to have senior roles and higher responsibilities, with higher salaries and a longer tenure in the labour force. A greater number of practitioners in this profile were also likely to have lived in Canada for more than 5 years, to have completed more than one post-secondary program, and to spend most of their work time on environmental activities.

Higher experience translated to strong employment benefits for these professionals. Profile 2 practitioners were more likely to stay in the same organization in the next two years, to experience greater job satisfaction, and to have left their previous employer for reasons under their control.

How to Engage Them

Tailoring engagement strategies to employees in this category involves initiatives that:

  • Provide challenging career paths
  • Support greater work-life balance


What’s your perspective? What engagement strategies have you valued the most or found particularly effective?