Water wheels were in use some 2000 years ago and human civilisation made rapid progress in the form of scientific progress. Gas, coal and oil have taken the centre stage until the early 2000s when most of us have accepted global warming as a reality and the need to shift to a sustainable source of energy. Across the world, there is a stronger voice in favour of green practices; how can the HR team make its practices greener?
Why is Green HRM important?
As the world is gearing up to adopt energy-efficient methods, every organisation is working towards reducing its carbon footprint. They are revamping their equipment, tools and methods to make them environment-friendly. Employees are increasingly conscious of the potential damage their actions cause to the environment.
Paperless offices, online processes, and using energy-efficient devices and methods draw our attention to a brand. Organisations are taking many steps forward in contributing toward the conservation of nature and the environment. They not only contribute financial resources towards these causes but also encourage their employees to volunteer in these programmes. Such affirmative action by companies helps them stand tall among others in their peer group, thus emerging as a stronger force in drawing top-class talent towards them.
How can HRM be greener?
It is relatively easy to visualise the use of green energy initiatives in an organisation. Manufacturing processes can become energy-efficient, pollution-causing sources can be upgraded to reduce or prevent carbon footprint, trees can be planted, effluents can be treated, recycling processes can be implemented and various such steps to reduce carbon footprint can be taken. None of these is in the domain of HRM (human resources management). So, how can the HR team adopt green practices?
In many invisible ways, the HR team can drive green practices in a company. For every step of people processes, one can create an impact. We need our employees to have heightened awareness and concern for the environment. So, in the recruitment process, one can screen for candidates who care for the environment and the community. One can go a step further to assess the depth of this characteristic and project the person’s concern for other stakeholders. Organisations are getting increasingly collaborative and thus, it helps to have all employees work together, listen actively to the views of others and support one another. Likely, someone who has an inherent orientation and sensitivity towards the community will collaborate with the members of the team and the organisation.
Apart from the recruitment process, HR can embed the same set of parameters in every other HR process such as performance assessment, rewards and recognition; also, the learning and development process. In each of these, consciousness towards the environment and community can be reiterated; the organisation’s commitment towards these gets tested if the rewards and recognition system considers this as an input.
How can we implement green HRM (GHRM) practices?
It is easy to ask the HR team to embed a particular value in its practices, but hard to put them into action. There are priorities such as the organisation’s values and beliefs which need to be seen as completely integrated with all HR practices. Sometimes, these values are many and there is no room available to integrate green practices in critical areas such as recruitment, talent assessment and rewards. As a result, these find a place in a handful of HR practices leading to a haphazard approach and an ineffective implementation.
In summary, we understand the rise in consciousness levels of candidates and employees towards green practices, however, it is difficult to put all of them in HR practices unless the top leaders are absolutely clear that they will make the organisation stand tall in terms of its commitment and actions towards green initiatives. As many things do, this is one more item on the plate of the top leaders to choose if greening initiatives are a priority.