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Green Initiatives through HR – Good to Go Green

Green Initiatives through HR – Good to Go Green


Prof.Anju Kumar                                                                      
ISME- Bangalore
Earlier economic performance warranted corporate success. Now, economic and financial outcomes need to be supplemented by minimization of ecological footprints. An increased consideration to social and environmental aspects is sought. Green management came into being in the 90s and has since become very popular to address environmental issues. Organizations need to create an equilibrium between growth and safeguarding the natural environment so that future cohorts may thrive. The three main aspects which need to be kept in mind are pollution control, product stewardship and corporate social responsibility. Many organizations are following the Environmental Management Systems as a process enabler to contribute towards greener management practices.
Human Resources play a vital role in creating success and effectiveness in any management innovation. Employees as we all know create the competitive advantage for any organization. Green HR (Human resources) initiatives help companies find unconventional ways to reduce cost without losing their top talent. A broader agenda is fulfilled by enabling green HR and talent initiatives. This further contributes to environmental management and sustainability. Green HR efforts till now have largely focused on growing efficiency within processes, decreasing and eliminating environmental waste, and revamping HR products, tools, and procedures resulting in greater efficiency and lower cost. In order to carry out green talent initiatives, an employee must be inspired, empowered and environmentally aware of greening.  
The objective of this paper is to understand what constitutes green initiatives through HR and suggest ways in which companies can implement them.
An attempt has been made to extract qualitative data from literature review of various sources. A systemic search of research papers from known databases has been made. Also newspaper articles, websites and journals have been referred. This is not an exhaustive effort, nevertheless a beginning.
 Good to Go Green !
Green HR initiatives refer to the contribution of people management policies and activities towards a broader agenda. Organizations today are focusing on applying more effort on talent-management initiatives and will continue to do so during the next few years as external factors, such as the impending talent shortage and globalization, become more and more prevalent.It is obvious that top talent have a role to play in the pursuit of greener business practices, a role to save the planet for our future generations and impose green working practices and modify environmentally unfriendly behaviors.
Distinguished policies in the field of recruitment, performance and appraisal management, training and personnel development, employee relations and reward systems are considered powerful tools for aligning employees with a company’s environmental strategy (Renwick, 2008). Green human resources refer to using every employee touch point/interface to promote sustainable practices and increase employee awareness and commitments on the issues of sustainability (Mandip 2012)
Green Recruitment as we understand is a paper-free recruitment process with a minimal environmental impact. Applications are invited through online media like e-mail, online application forms or the Global talent Pool. To the greatest extent, telephonic or video-based interviews are conducted to minimize any travel-related environmental impact. To hire the best candidate with the right cultural fit has always
been a challenge for Talent managers. It can be said that companies with environmental management systems are particularly dependent on elaborated Green HR policies ( Daily & Huang, 2001; Wee & Quazi, 2005). They are not immune to gaps between “rhetoric and reality” (Crane, 1995). If they have high expectations concerning their environmental performance, it is especially important for them to transform aspirations and good intentions into actual everyday behavior.
So how do organizations start planting green seeds? They begin by ensuring and practicing green recruitment policies. The first step to going green is social networking. To guarantee the green seeds start sprouting, organizations seek candidates on LinkedIn, tweet on twitter and build professional Facebook pages that work well to attract quality candidates. The era where jobs were advertised in the media are slowly waning. Online candidate searches are a green practice, as they are free and companies are saving big green stuff! Attending job fairs is another green practice which can be followed. A thumb drive can be employed to distribute important company insights and materials to prospective job candidates. Creating a mobile friendly app about company information could be an impactful way to create employer branding. Contributing to the sustainability of the environment could be the employee value proposition.
Ten steps to enable and implement green initiatives
1.       To enable green talent initiatives, the buy in of top management is an absolute requisite. Focus groups at industry conferences that identify green factors is the first step towards going green. Also, identifying green factors which attract prospective candidates to apply has to be kept in mind while conducting these focus groups. This could be either through feedback or eliciting information from candidates during interviews and orientation.
2.       Do a competitive analysis and identify green initiatives followed by your competitors. Use the analysis to instrument better green plans.
3.       The website can be used to leverage and gain momentum for going green. A corporate careers webpage needs to be developed, with updates on greening that is happening and the results of those efforts should be prominently communicated on the corporate careers webpage. The webpage should include recycling statistics, as well as whether the organization is carbon neutral, limit greenhouse gases, won environmental awards etc. The webpage should also contain narratives or video profiles of the environmentally conscious employees.
4.       A good green buzz always works well for the organization. A good green write up in business dailies, professional or industry publications about the environmental activities of the organization go a long way. Working with the PR department always pays rich green dividends.
5.       Every job in the company needs to be environmentally integrated. The job descriptions need to communicate the responsibilities for minimizing negative environmental impact. Getting good green job candidates should be the objective of these descriptions. A candidate projecting a green profile with a self-statement endorsing green initiatives  on his resume should be given preference.
6.       To reinforce the environmental objectives of the organization, it is important to create green champions who can spread green stories through word of mouth. Also participate in green environmental events to create that visibility for the organization.
7.       Employee referrals are a proven way of recruiting candidates. Proactively, try to seek out employees who are noticeable in green circles. Also word of mouth regarding the green policies supported by the organization will reward the organization with likeminded employees. This also augments product sales.
8.       Applicants should be able to identify with the products or services offered by the organization to be environmentally sensitive.
9.       The vision, mission and objectives should be aligned to environmental elements. Green recruiting efforts should have metrics and rewards tied to it. Some of the metrics which could be included are the percentage of candidates aware of the strong environmental record, the number who reject offers because of a poor record, and the percentage of new hires who say your environmental record was one of their top-five reasons for accepting the offer.
10.   Finally consider supplementing employee benefits with holistic health options, paid time to volunteer for environmental causes, corresponding donations to green causes, and funding for alternative conveyance options to your benefit package.

To conclude, going green could become a game changer for the organization. It not only creates a competitive advantage, but also projects the organization as a caring one, concerned about saving the environment for our future generations. Enabling and implementing green HR initiatives is a way of contributing to the sustainability of our planet. Therefore the ultimate payoff of going green in business can result in infinite benefits leading to sustainability of both the organization and the environment, irrespective of the industry or sector these initiatives are followed in. Being mindful of the environment is what going green is all about, and it’s good to go green!
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