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Why & How HR is going green in 2024


Green human resource management (GHRM) is an emerging concept that integrates environmental sustainability into the policies and practices of human resource management. GHRM aims to foster a green organizational culture, enhance employee engagement and performance, and reduce the environmental impact of an organization.

The Benefits of Green HR management

Green HR management can bring various benefits to the organization, the employees, and the society.

Some of the benefits are:

  • Improved organizational reputation and image. By adopting GHRM, your  organization can demonstrate its commitment to environmental responsibility and social accountability, which can enhance your reputation and image among stakeholders such as customers, investors, suppliers, and government regulators. This can also increase your organization’s brand’s value and attractiveness in the market.

  • Increased employee motivation and satisfaction. By implementing GHRM, your organization can create a green work environment that supports employee well-being, health, and safety. This can increase employee motivation and satisfaction, as well as reduce absenteeism and turnover. Moreover, GHRM can provide employees with opportunities for learning, development, and participation in green initiatives, which can foster their sense of purpose, meaning, and empowerment.

 

  • Enhanced employee performance and productivity. By applying GHRM, an  organization can improve employee performance and productivity, as well as reduce costs and waste. GHRM can enhance employee performance and productivity by providing them with green skills, knowledge, and competencies, as well as feedback and rewards. GHRM can also reduce costs and waste by promoting resource efficiency, innovation, and quality improvement.

 

  • Positive environmental and social impact. By adopting GHRM,  an organization can contribute to environmental and social sustainability, as well as comply with environmental laws and regulations. GHRM can reduce the environmental impact of your organization by minimizing its carbon footprint, energy consumption, water usage, and waste generation. GHRM can also contribute to social sustainability by supporting community development, education, and awareness.

What does green HR management look like in an organisation?

GHRM is best achieved by either incorporating it into your organisations strategic plan or as part of your People & Culture workforce plan. Here are some examples of GHRM key initiatives:

·        Include prosocial and pro-environment behaviour as part of your recruitment and talent planning.

·        Establish positions in your organisation that are dedicated to environment social governance (ESG) implementation or green sustainability initiatives. Leading organisations in GHRM have Chief Sustainability Officers.

·        Establish policies in your organisation that are dedicated to achieving alignment with green suppliers.

·        Induction training for all new employees on your organisations green policies, your sustainability initiatives and how they can be involved.

·        Green staff training – educating your staff on how to be green  at work and at home.

·        Green innovation projects – Human resources allocated to green innovation projects across your organisation.

·        Green rewards – include prosocial and pre-environmental behaviour in your organisations reward and recognition programs. Share good news stories of people involved in green initiatives or socially positive initiatives at work and within the community.

·        Green empowerment – encourage staff to create their own green initiatives in their workspace and within their teams or department. Teams can work together on reducing their energy consumption, water consumption and waste management.

·        Green work life balance – encourage work life balance activities at work that are also pro-environmentally friendly. 

Some Examples of GHRM Practices

To illustrate how GHRM can be implemented in practice, here are some examples of GHRM practices from various organizations:

  • IKEA, a multinational furniture retailer, has a green selective staffing policy that requires applicants to share the company’s vision of creating a better everyday life for people and the planet. IKEA also provides green training to its employees on topics such as sustainability, circular economy, and climate change. IKEA also empowers its employees to take green actions, such as using renewable energy, reducing waste, or planting trees. IKEA also rewards its employees for their green performance, such as giving them bonuses, recognition, or career opportunities. IKEA also promotes green teamwork by encouraging its employees to collaborate and communicate on green projects and initiatives. IKEA also supports green work-life balance by offering flexible working hours, teleworking options, and green benefits, such as bike subsidies, public transport discounts, or organic food vouchers. 

 

  • Patagonia, a multinational outdoor clothing and gear company, has a green selective staffing policy that seeks to hire employees who are passionate about environmental activism and conservation. Patagonia also provides green training to its employees on topics such as environmental ethics, impact assessment, and advocacy. Patagonia also empowers its employees to take green actions, such as donating 1% of their sales to environmental causes, joining environmental campaigns, or volunteering for environmental organizations. Patagonia also rewards its employees for their green performance, such as giving them grants, awards, or recognition. Patagonia also offers green career opportunities by providing its employees with green mentoring, coaching, or development. Patagonia also fosters green teamwork by creating and supporting green teams, groups, and networks, such as the Environmental Grants Team, the Footprint Chronicles Team, or the Green Team Network. Patagonia also facilitates green work-life balance by offering flexible working arrangements, paid leave, and green benefits, such as on-site childcare, organic cafeteria, or yoga classes. Patagonia also engages its employees in green decision making by soliciting their input, feedback, or suggestions on green issues, problems, or opportunities.

 

  • Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, has a green selective staffing policy that evaluates candidates based on their alignment with the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of the company’s products and operations. Unilever also provides green training to its employees on topics such as sustainability, innovation, and leadership. Unilever also empowers its employees to take green actions, such as reducing water usage, eliminating plastic waste, or sourcing sustainable materials. Unilever also rewards its employees for their green performance, such as giving them incentives, recognition, or career opportunities. Unilever also creates green career opportunities by providing its employees with green learning, development, and mobility. Unilever also encourages green teamwork by enabling its employees to collaborate and communicate on green projects and initiatives. Unilever also supports green work-life balance by offering flexible working options, well-being programs, and green benefits, such as health insurance, pension plans, or employee discounts. Unilever also involves its employees in green decision making by inviting them to share their ideas, opinions, or concerns on green issues, problems, or opportunities.


Conclusion

GHRM can help organizations achieve environmental sustainability, as well as improve employee engagement and performance. GHRM can be implemented in various ways, depending on your organization’s goals, values, and resources. The best way to becoming a green organisation is through your people. Given the training,  encouragement and opportunity your people will willingly make your organisation green and sustainable for the future.


Paul Saunders

Paul is an organisational psychologist working with organisations in making the green transformation.

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