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  • Article

    The Concept of Green HRM


    The Concept of Green HRM

    The Basics


    Planet Earth supports life because it has an environment that favours the survival and growth of living beings, be it a small bacterium, plant, animal or a fully developed human being.

    The planet is at the right distance from the Sun, it is protected from harmful solar radiation by its magnetic field, it is kept warm by an insulating atmosphere, and it has the right chemical ingredients for life, including water and carbon. In short, it is very much balanced in terms of the composition of its elements. But with the advancements in Science & Technology. the quality of that environment is incessantly being compromised and its habitability is at stake, putting the Natural resources in a terrible pressure. This exploitation of natural resources globally has led to serious issues like global warming, depletion of ozone layers and increase of CFC and C02 in the atmosphere. The result is melting of ice/snow near the poles and the increase in the seawater levels. It is also affecting the flora and fauna, resulting in the reduction of the forest animals, disturbing the food chains and the ecosystems. As a result, world environmentalists started discussing ecological issues globally. If we look at the history of environmental changes, we will apprehend that the major damages to the natural setting of any country has/had always been perpetrated by the Industrialisation process. It caused tremendous stress on the entire bio-network and natural system components like water, air, soil and biodiversity including surrounding eco-system. From mining to the continuous cutting down of trees, to setting up of huge factories and buildings, everything has only worsened the situation. This alarming situation brings with it a responsibility on the shoulders of the most intelligent creature on this planet, i.e., we Humans. Because development is a necessaryevil, we need to find ways by which we not only cease the deploration of our surrounding but also contribute towards its betterment. The last two decades of this century have witnessed a unanimous consensus for the need for a realistic environmental management drive all over the world.

    This effort was undertaken since the damaging effects of different pollutants among which the industrial wastes being the major culprit that has been deteriorating and depleting our natural resources very fast, has been evident. The corporate world now is changing the perspective from a business-oriented financial perspective to a competency-based economy and green economy. As the world is moving towards a green economy, the responsivity of corporate has expanded to ‘Go Green!’

    Going green means conservation of earth’s natural resources as well as supporting the “preservation of your personal resources” i.e. your family, friends, lifestyle, communities. It means implementing determined lifestyle changes that will help an individual to live in an eco-friendly way. For this, every individual should be more aware of the environment and should be changing his behaviour, attitude and lifestyle to minimize the practices or activities that cause harm to the environment. Every small change by every individual in his lifestyle makes a Green work-life and green environment for one and one’s coming generations. There is a growing awareness within organizations regarding the significance of “Green” issues. A Green Workplace is environmentally sensitive, resource-efficient and socially responsible. There is even the development of International Environmental standards owing to which there is a need for organisations to adopt formal environmental practices. By taking the base of Green concept, already various kinds of literature on Green marketing, Green accounting, Green retailing and Green management have fertilized the area of management. There is also a need for integration of Environmental Management into Human Resource (HR), called Green HR/Green HRM practices.

    Thus, the Green movement across the world gives birth to Green HRM.

    Corporates that are leading by example

    Ashok Ramachandran, Group Executive President - Human Resources at Aditya Birla Group defines Green HR as ‘using every employee touchpoint to espouse sustainable practices and raise employee level of awareness’. Green HRM is the use of HRMpolicies to support the sustainable use of resources within organizations and, more usually helps the reasons for environmental sustainability. The term is most regularly used to refer to the concerns of people management policies and practices towards the broader corporate environmental schedule. For instance, typical green activities contain video recruiting, or the use of online and video interviews, to minimize travel requirements. Other simple green events embrace minimizing the number of printed materials used in performance management, salary evaluations etc. Though there is absolutely an important amount of “greenwashing” happening in reducing waste, HR is never going away to have a really important impact on a business through the improvement of HR processes singlehanded. So the superior opportunity is to include the green program of the business as a whole. Emphatically, different Green HRM practices can develop willingness, inspiration and commitment to employees to contribute their efforts, ideas to the greening of their organization.
    While many employees often feel that it is not their responsibility to support the environment while they are at work, the new workforces of millennial are highlighting environmental realization as they prefer their employers. There is also a broader opportunity to connect the workforce given that more and more people today search for significance and self-actualization in their jobs. High achieving graduates judge the environmental performance and reputation of the company as a criterion for decision making for jobs. A survey by British Carbon trust shows that over 75% of 1018 employee consider working for a firm by seeing that they have an active policy to reduce carbon emission.Various institutions today emphasize the key issue of environment-friendly activities. The NEWSWEEK magazine ranks the 500 largest publicly-traded companies in the United States (the U.S. 500) and the 500 largest publicly-traded companies globally (the Global 500) on overall environmental performance, comprehensively assessing the environmental performance Published annually since 2009, this project is the first effort by a major media organization to rank companies based on their actual environmental footprint, management of that footprint, and sustainability communications. The rankings provide a reliable, crossindustry framework for comparing the environmental commitment and performance of major companies. Along with this, many corporate giants today have come up with innovative ways to ensure that they function responsibly.


    What Next?

    Some steps include:

    • Dell Inc. promotes environmental sustainability by encouraging employees for plantation weekends. Certificates are issued for the best planter in a quarter.
    • Google has opted for E-recruiting because they believe talented people get attracted most by this practice.
    • General Electric use six sigma techniques for optimizing their operations to improve environmental & social outcomes thereby increasing overall performance.
    • Hewlett Packard opts for Green packing and integrative designs. ITC adopted a low-carbon growth strategy which focused on enhanced use of renewable energy sources as well as reduction in specific energy consumption.
    • ONGC works towards Sustainable Water Management, National Gas Star program, Sustainability Reporting.

    Ways in which the HR department can go Green:
    Implementation of the Green HRM policies in any organization requires that we need to look at each of the HR functions individually.

    The process of Sourcing and Acquisition:
    This process involves activities that are done to reach out to the right candidate and acquire him for the role. To start with, the HR Department can make Green Job Descriptions for employees. While developing the competency model for talent, an organization can include environmental consciousness as one of the core competencies required in the employees. Green job candidates, which comprises a large section of talented and knowledgeable manpower, use Green criteria when applying for jobs, and, therefore, companies having Green practices can attract good talent. Preference in selection should be given to a candidate who is ‘Green aware’, which becomes a part of the HR acquisition policy. Resumes could be submitted online, company websites could be used by candidates to search for jobs, which helps to substantially reduce waste created from printing them. This process is not only completely paperless but also makes one’s career more accessible and easily shared with potential employers.

    The process of Induction and Orientation:
    This involves programs made to integrate a new employee into an organization and to familiarize him with the products or services. These programs should be designed in such a way as to facilitate the association of new employees into a culture of Green consciousness. Induction programs should highlight the organization’s concern for green issues of employees like their health, safety and green working conditions. This way, along with presenting the company’s history, culture, departments, achievements and so on, these programs should also highlight its concerns with environmental issues and the Green actions being developed both inside the company (in the offices or other facilities) and along its value-chain together with other stakeholders (if any).

    The process of Performance Management & Appraisals:
    Performance Management and appraisal is a regular review of an employee's job performance and overall contribution to a company. A system could be developed to include 'Green' targets in the Key Performance Areas (KPA). This can be translated into Green performance standards and Green behaviour indicators which should serve as yardsticks in performance appraisal of employees at all levels. Green targets, goals and responsibilities should be established for managers and achievement of managers in accomplishing green results should be included in appraisals. While this accountability may be easily done in some jobs, one of the biggest obstacles of green PA (Performance Appraisal) is the difficulty to measure and gain data on environmental performance standards across different organizational departments/units. To help overcome this, companies can start using global systems that help them to collect data and at the same time give them advice on how they can become more sustainable and gets them a certificate for that, such as ISO 14001 or the Global Reporting Initiative.

    The process of Learning and Development:
    This function of HR department involves providing the opportunities of growth and development to the existing employees that would prepare them as the future leaders for the growth of the organisation. Extensive use should be made of online and web-based training modules and interactive media as training tools not only for environment management training but also for the other functional areas. Environment-related aspects of safety, energy efficiency, waste management and recycling can become the focal points of Green training. Training managers should rely more on online course material and case studies rather than on printed handouts, thus further reducing the use of paper. Training, development and learning plans should include programmes, workshops and sessions to enable employees to develop and acquire knowledge in environment management, green skills and attitude.

    The process of compensation and Reward management:
    This is the process of managing, analysing and determining the salary, incentives and benefits each employee receives. In GHRM, the compensation and reward management should recognize contributions in Green management. The compensation packages should be customized to reward the Green qualities acquired and achieved by the employees. Monetary, non-monetary and recognition-based rewards can be used for the green achievements of the workers. The monetary rewards can be allocated in the forms of augmenting pay, cash incentives and bonuses, while non-monetary rewards can include sabbaticals, special offs and gifts to them and their family members. Recognition-based awards can highlight green contributions of employees through wide publicity and public praise and appreciation of green efforts by the CEO or top management executives. The process of employee relation: This process includes promoting ‘eco intrapreneurs’ in the company for adding value to an organization’s products (and services) with efficient resources. It also involves encouraging the employees for involvement and participation in social and ecological initiatives. Green suggestion schemes and problem shooting circles should be developed through employee involvement and cooperation. Companies can develop Green workplace which is environmentally sensitive, resource-efficient and socially responsible. Green commuting habits like flexi-hours, car-pooling, free or discounted transportation passes, etc. should be introduced. Arrangement of telecommuting or e-work to reduce travel and emission. Adopting ‘3R’ approach of ‘Reduce-Recycle-Reuse’ resources and establishing focus groups as Low carbon-chiefs (including CEO and Board) for Green initiatives. The resources from nature are being used every second of every minute of every hour. So, it becomes the responsibility of all the involved ones to ensure that they are used sustainably so that they remain available for our as well as for the coming generations. If the above-mentioned pointers could be implemented in the work-life, one can compensate for the damages that are being caused to mother nature in the name of development and advancement. Environmental-friendly HR proposals result in greater efficiencies, lower costs and in creating an atmosphere of better employee engagement, which in turn help organizations operate in an environmentally sustainable fashion. This concept carries a great significance for both organizations and employees and focusses on theresponsiveness and implementation of green HR practices in organizations. Employees learn so many things from work life and private life, and due to these learnings, individual behaviour varies towards the environment.

    And Green HRM is certainly a ray of hope for a better and green tomorrow.


    Source of information: HR Management Institute, International Journey Applied
    Sciences, International Journey Business and Management

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