Monthly Archives: August 2011

Green HR: The Ultimate Change Management Tool for Sustainability

What on earth is Green HR?

After dealing with “greenwashing” for the last three years with every Tom, Dick and Harry, I was annoyed when someone told me to do an interview on Green HR.  What on earth is Green HR?  After careful research, I had an epiphany.  What if sustainability efforts were aligned with the human resources department.  Human Resources is in charge of employee benefits, employee manuals, standard operating procedures, and workplace policy.  What if human resources worked with the sustainability director to develop sustainability programs for employee retention and work-life balance? I’m quite sure that I am late to the party, but I hardly hear about what some HR departments are doing, until now.

From my research, I have ascertained that Green HR is a strategy used primarily for reducing the carbon footprint of each employee and talent retention.  More employees are becoming more concerned about the environment and climate change.  HR departments are seeing Green HR as a cutting edge way to keep top talent in house.  Top talent is considered the industry’s most valued asset, yet many corporations have been treating them as expendable.  As knowledgeable, experienced professionals become harder to find and retain, companies must continue to be creative at finding ways of keeping these highly skilled workers.

Top 10 simple things companies can do to reduce the employee carbon footprint:

  • Electronic Filing
  • Public Transportation
  • Bicycle to work
  • Ride Sharing
  • Job Sharing
  • Teleconference
  • Telework
  • Virtual Interviews
  • Recycling
  • Energy Efficient Work Spaces
Is Green HR relevant in a bad economy?

When the unemployment rate hit 9.4% back in May, employers found themselves losing top talent when they needed them most.  The total cost of replacing top talent is way more than the incentives you can implement to keep top talent.  A little goes a long way.  If I have a top software developer like Ruby on Rails, it will cost me  bundle because they are high demand with limited supply.  So how should I keep them on staff?  Even in tough times I must find creative ways to keep top talent.  Right now, sustainability is being measured in the marketplace.  From the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.  Companies are being rated based on the sheer Greenness, if that is even a word.

What are the benefits of Green HR?

This is a win/win scenario for the employee and the employer.  First and foremost, you have helped the environment.  The employer gets to hold onto top talent, while increasing productivity because that employee is happy to be there.  A happy employee is a productive one.  The employer has to be willing to provide strong leadership, care for their employees, offer opportunities for professional growth, offer opportunities for more responsibility, offer flexibility, and last they must offer perks.  Take for instance, SoftChoice from Canada.  SoftChoice has a public transportation policy.  If you take public transportation to work they pay their employees an extra $90.00 per month.  Back in June, SoftChoice had a party on World Environment Day, which used environmentally inspired foods and products.  Another company, Integrated Archive Systems, Inc. out of Palo Alto, CA pays up to $10,000.00 towards the purchase of a hybrid vehicle and if you want to ride a bicycle to work, they purchase that, too.  They also pay for your lunch so you don’t get out on the road and drive.

Here is my challenge:

Find other companies with Green HR and thriving Sustainability Programs and maybe we can make a new list of desirable places to work. Desirable Green Employment.