Building A Green HR

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Ecological consciousness is a much talked over subject in the present scenario and it is quickly entering every single dimension of our personal and professional lives. Lately, our lifestyle have started to impact the environment at such a disquieting level that we cannot ignore the ill-effects. It’s time to change our habits both at personal and professional fronts; otherwise our future generation will face the repercussions of our inaction, in the coming times. Undoubtedly, today’s business leaders are the most important stakeholders in this debate on environmental sustainability and will lead the way in terms of finding long-term solutions.

Green HR

The emerging global concern towards environment and the development of various pro – environment international standards are putting additional responsibilities on business leaders to be conscious of their responsibilities towards environment while driving growth. Many organisations are using these compliance and standards for their environmental and green management initiatives. The green world is dominating the business agendas, value and objectives are been revisited.

“Green HR is a philosophy that includes awareness towards the environmental affairs along with taking a stand concerning the social as well as economic well-being of business and the employees in the broader context”

Green HR simply refers to extending the role of HR by adopting policies to stimulate and support the ecological use of resources and preserve natural resources around us.  Green HR emphases on the development, implementation and maintenance of all actions aiming towards making employees compassionate towards their responsibility to environment as a whole, and take actions to the sustainability goals of the organisation.

Green HR Practices

Since businesses are focusing on the well-being of environment, human resource function has an additional responsibility to go green along with its HR policies. At any organisation, human resource department plays a strategic role in Green HR scheme by making their responsibility to the environment as part of the organisation’s vision & mission statement and by encouraging and creating awareness about the sustainable practices and increasing commitment on the related issues. HR can focus on inculcating the environmentally sensitive behaviour amongst employees by inducting environmental friendly HR practices and facilitating the organisations to develop workforce that understands and appreciate green culture through training and other awareness programs, on green issues.

Green HR practices may range from actions as basics as double-sided copying, reusing the paper, using recycled plastic, monitoring carbon footprints, adopting environment friendly products at workplace to  the integration of environmental objectives and strategies within the strategic goals of an organisation. Human Resource team can introduce segregation of Green HR Practices starting from the entry point of an employee (joining) and proceed until an employee exit.

Green Recruitment-

Refers to developing an electronic recruitment process and creating a paper-free protocol. It includes video recruiting, inviting online applications, and having teleconferences and virtual interviews to minimize the travel cost.

Green Training & Development-

Creating environmental sustainability awareness sessions for employees to ensure that they are motivated and also participate in the environment friendly initiatives. Green training enables HR to upscale employee on different approaches that help in reduction of waste, maximum utilization of resources, conservation of energy and subsequently reducing various causes of environmental degradation. Through these actions, HR can create opportunities to engage employees in environmental problem solving. Green training also talks about creating a set-up for having online training, maintaining the training materials and documents at a centralize server and on digital format, in an attempt to reduce one’s carbon footprints. 

Green Performance Management System

Covers linking individual performance goals to the overall environmental goals of the organisation. It involves integration of environmental sustainability plans with the performance management system and improving the outcomes of the environmental sustainability performances.  One can also think of linking employee’s participation in Green initiatives to promotion/career gains etc.

Green Rewards & Recognition-

Programs involve having Green Rewards as appreciation towards actions taken by employees for the betterment of the environment. Through these actions HR can motivate and encourage employees to practice environmental friendly practices which can be as small as car-pooling to usage of public transport, online training, having flexible work arrangements etc.

Benefits

Employee involvement in the eco-friendly green initiatives strengthens the probability of effective green management in the organisation.

  • Green HR practices gives competitive advantage to the business by increasing customer confidence in the business.
  • It builds a strong socially responsible brand image and recognition, it positions the business as an employer of choice, increased workforce productivity, efficiency, motivation and employee retention.
  • During challenging times, organisations are quick to downsize without realizing the future implications of losing the knowledge capital.
  • Green HR practices (like part-time, work from home, job sharing etc.) help organisations to identify alternate ways and means to cut cost without losing their talent.
  • Green HR involves reducing your carbon footprint by means of less printing of paper, video conferencing and interviews, etc.

Green HR & Businesses

In the global arena, to become environmentally responsible organisations are developing a sense of responsibility towards the green world and are putting deliberate efforts to be socially conscious. Customers demand for policies and practices towards business ethical practices and environmental credentials as a mandate. 

Organisations like Honda, Goldman Sachs, GE, IBM, Walt Disney etc. have aligned their environmental policies and practices with their strategic business goals and advertise them to gain competitive advantage. Companies like Google, Walmart, Ford Motors, HP, Starbucks etc. are not only implementing these policies and practices, but have gone ahead and publicizes their environmental records and way forward. In the Indian context, the green initiatives are at an emerging phase, and Indian corporates have started realizing the need of the hour. Indian companies like Tata Group have released their sustainable development goals in public and have introduced Tata Sustainability Leadership programme to take the topic to the boardroom. Companies are moving ahead and hiring for roles in Environmental Suitability. They have realized that for their next stage growth, they need to have sustained Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility policies in place.   

Way Forward

Going Green in HR space is beginning to gather space and appears promising for all the stakeholders of the business: employees, business leaders and their customers. Its time when HR will undergo some fundamental changes and will have align with the business strategy and become the driver of these Green and CSR initiatives.

The Green HR efforts can result in higher level of efficiencies, ecological use of available resources, reduced amount of wastage, enhanced job related attitude, improved professional / personal life, reduce cost, improved employee performance and morale. Complete adoption of Green HR practices in organisations is not an impossible goal to achieve.  However it will require a different attitude towards the prevailing HR practices as part of both the management as well as employees simultaneously.

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Dr. Shafali Bahl Shah has 16 years of the experience in Human Resources and currently she is associated with Exicom Tele-systems Ltd. as Head of Human Resources. Doctorate in Knowledge Management & Human Resources, she is having diverse experience across industries like Engineering Consulting (Oil & Gas), Mobility, Telecom, and Manufacturing; with exposure in Talent Acquisition, Management and Development, Organizational Development, Employee Engagement, HR automation and CSR.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent green HR initiative. If practiced by all companies, we can substantially reduce environmental impact on the society

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