updated 2/4/2011 3:19:47 PM ET 2011-02-04T20:19:47

When it comes to employee morale, how "green" a company acts may be more important than its bottom line.

According to a new study, workers are happier when their employers take steps that seem environmentally friendly. The company's financial performance produced no such satisfaction boost.

Researchers at UMass Dartmouth analyzed data on employee satisfaction, perceived environmental performance and financial performance at 113 companies. They expected that both better business performance and more green policies would improve employee morale. Instead, only favorable environmental policies were associated with greater happiness.

Earlier work has shown that the link between a company's bottom line and its employees' happiness is "virtually nonexistent," the researchers wrote today (Feb. 1) in the journal Interdisciplinary Environmental Review. Corporate responsibility, on the other hand, does improve people's opinions of their employers.

For businesses, the take-away message should be to communicate environment-friendly policies to employees, the researchers said. Taking steps toward green business and letting people know about those steps, they wrote, could improve hiring and make it easier to keep employees.

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