What is Green HRM?
The term Green HRM has become the buzz word within the business field at present and its significance is increasing manifold with the passage of time. This term has also its secured position as a hot topic in recent research works since the awareness on environmental management and sustainable development has been increasingly rising day by day all round the globe. Today the topic Green HRM not only includes awareness toward environmental affairs, but also stands for the social as well as economical well-being of both the organization and the employees within a broader prospect.
Before proceeding further, first of all we take up the question, “what is Green HRM?” Different authors have given different definitions for this term such as—“Green HRM is the use of HRM policies to promote the sustainable use of resources within organizations and, more generally promotes the causes of environment sustainability”. GHRM is directly responsible in creating green workforce that understands, appreciates, and practices green initiative and maintains its green objectives all throughout the HRM process of recruiting, hiring, training, compensating, developing, and advancing the firms human capital. It refers to the policies, practices, and systems that make employees of the organization green for the benefit of the individual, society, natural environment, and the business.
Need for GHRM
Last two decades of this century have witnessed a unanimous consensus for the need of 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 “Magna Carta” on Human Environment was declared in the first United Nation’s (International) Conference on Human Environment held in June 1972 in Stockholm declared that to defend and improve the human environment for present and future generation have become an imperative goal for mankind. The Green HRM literature is largely a western one and, given the importance of Asian economic development for environmental management, this is an important gap for future studies to reduce. Scholars of management around the world are now analyzing various managerial practices that can facilitate the achievements of the goals of GHRM and also have a significant impact on the environmental competitiveness of the organizations.
GHRM functions future direction
GHRM is a manifesto which helps to create green workforce that can understand and appreciate green culture in an organization. Such green initiative can maintain its green objectives all throughout the HRM process of recruiting, hiring and training, compensating, developing, and advancing the firm’s human capital. The Human Resource Department of a company is capable of playing a significant role in the creation of sustainability culture within the company. HR processes play an important role in translating Green HR policy into practice; therefore, human capital and its management are instrumental to the fulfillment of EM objectives.
It needs to be acknowledged that the intersection of sustainability, the natural environment, and HR management are new areas in fast development and therefore, not characterized by a fully developed body of writings point out that many HR systems need to be aligned with each other in order to increase the likelihood that the organization will achieve its strategy.
Attracting high-quality staff is a key HR challenge in the “war for talent. Firms are now beginning to recognize the fact that gaining reputation as a green employer is an effective way to attract new talent. German firms such as Siemens, BASF, Bayer and Mannesmann use environmental activities and a green image to attract high-quality staff. The Rover Group carmaker, in Britain, makes environmental responsibilities and qualifications part of every job profile. Increasingly, green job descriptions with environmental aspects are now being included for employees within the recruitment agenda. Green recruitment can be defined as the process of hiring individuals with knowledge, skills, approaches, and behaviors that identify with environmental management systems within an organization. Recruitment practices can support effective environmental management by making sure that new entrants are familiar with an organization’s environmental culture and are capable of maintaining its environmental values.
Green recruiting is a system where the focus is given on importance of the environment and making it a major element within the organization. Complementing this, the recruits are also enthusiastic, and to some extent, passionate about working for an environment friendly “green” company. Recruiting candidates with green bend of mind make it easy for firms to induct professionals who are aware with sustainable processes and are already familiar with basics like recycling, conservation, and creating a more logical world. Grolleau et al. (2012) in their study on impact of environmental standards of a company on recruitment of an employee found that environmental commitment of the company adds to profile of a company. In their primary survey, they found that professionals were more concerned with respect to the environmental strategy of a company.
Contemplating these statements, we conclude that green recruitment provides the employer with an opportunity to stand ahead of the crowd and further increase their chance of attracting the candidates and retain them after induction. Corroborating the recent green trend, we propose that the recruitment process be aligned with environment-friendly issues. Further research should address questions related to the green employer’s enthusiasm in achieving the environmental goals and how the potential job seekers perceive or rate them on the parameters of sustainability as claimed. For example, do the employers include green job descriptions, eco-friendly locations, paper less interviews, and such other practices in their recruitment portfolio? Are the new recruits made aware with the environmental policies and allegiance of the company at the commencement of the job itself? Research addressing these questions will help the new recruits to carry on with the green policies as well as cooperate with the management in establishing green policies to achieve the goals of the company.
Green performance management
Performance management (PM) is the process by which employees are prompted to enhance their professional skills that help to achieve the organizational goals and objectives in a better way. The recognition of the corporate strategy culminates into the PM. With the EM affecting global business strategy, PM is also being influenced by the green wave in a possible positive manner. Green performance management consists of issues related to environmental concerns and policies of the company. It also concentrates on use of environmental responsibilities. Today some firms deal with the issue of PM by installing corporate-wide environmental performance standards, and Green information systems/audits to gain useful data on environmental performance.
The most important aspect of PM is performance appraisal. In addition to meeting the criteria of reliability, validity, and fairness, effective performance appraisals provide useful feedback to employees and support continuous improvements in the firm’s environmental outcomes. Issues involved in environmental PA concern the need for managers to be held accountable for EM performance in addition to wider performance objectives. We suggest that future research on green performance appraisal should focus upon issues such as environmental incidents, environmental responsibilities, communication of environmental policy, and green information system and audits. The job description should be aligned with green tasks and goals to be achieved. The HR staff should modify the performance appraisal rating system to include dimensions for rating people on the following behavioral and technical competencies: teamwork, collaboration, diversity, innovation, and environmental stewardship. Such competencies would reinforce the company’s core values. Managers should discuss the performance of the employees and give the needed feedback not only during the scheduled time of appraisal, but also all round the year. This practice will help the employees to enhance their knowledge, skills and ability.
Green training and development
Training and development is a practice that focuses on development of employees’ skills, knowledge, and attitudes, prevent deterioration of EM-related knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Green training and development educate employees about the value of EM, train them in working methods that conserve energy, reduce waste, diffuse environmental awareness within the organization, and provide opportunity to engage employees in environmental problem-solving. Green T&D activities make employees aware of different aspects and value of environment management. It helps them to embrace different methods of conservation including waste management within an organization. Further, it sharpens the skill of an employee to deal with different environmental issues. In a survey of managers, on best management practices concluded that environmental training and education, along with establishing a favorable environmental culture for the employees where they feel that they are the part of environmental outcomes, were the most important HRM processes that facilitate the achievement of environmental goals. In his study on the role of HR in achieving a sustainability culture, suggests that the HR Department can offer leadership development workshops to help managers develop their “front wheel” soft, people skills, or behavioral competencies, in teamwork, diversity, managing change, and collaboration. Future research that facilitate green training on one hand and helps organizations on the other to develop eco-friendly managers who without any hesitation can indulge as well as promote sustainability throughout the process would be particularly useful.
Concluding the above discussion, we envisage that the need of the hour is: organizations should train their employees on best business practices enthused with green initiatives. Besides, sustainable training and education employees should also be adept to educate the customers regarding the advantages of becoming more earth-friendly and buying green products.
Rewards and compensation are the major HRM processes through which employees are rewarded for their performance. These HR practices are the most powerful method which links together an individual’s interest to that of the organization’s. We also assert that incentives and rewards can influence employees’ attention to the maximum at work and motivate them to exert maximum effort on their part to achieve organizational goals.
Though compensation and rewards increase green initiatives in organizations, it can never be completely free from some malpractices. Developing effective monetary incentives can be challenging due to the difficulty of accurately and fairly evaluating environmental behaviors and performance. By incorporating elements of green management in the compensation program, managers can promote the green behaviors among the employees. Further, managers can ask employees to bring specific green ideas pertaining to their individual jobs which can be through mutual decisions included into the objectives to attain in for the upcoming year. Attaining these objectives would be the basis of receiving incentives.
Employee compensation programs can be modified to give bonuses based in part on the employee’s appraisal ratings on the behavioral and technical competencies. In addition, employees could be awarded bonuses for their outstanding work on special projects. Green rewards can include the use of workplace and lifestyle benefits, ranging from carbon credit offsets to free bicycles, to engage people in the green agenda while continuing to recognize their contribution. Last, but not the least, more emphasis should be given on researches which determine effective approaches that will help to design and implement green compensation practices and may lead to the achievement of corporate environmental goals.
Green employee relations
Employee relations are that aspect of HRM which is concerned with establishing amicable employer–employee relationship. The relationship facilitates motivation and morale of the employees as well as, increases the productivity. Basically, employee relations involve employee participation and empowerment activities. It also helps prevent and resolve problems arisen at workplace that may affect the work. In fact, positive employee relations are an intangible and enduring asset and a source of competitive advantage for any organization.
Employee participation in Green initiatives increases the chances of better green management as it aligns employees’ goals, capabilities, motivations, and perceptions with green management practices and systems. Involving employees in EM has been reported as improving EM systems such as efficient resource usage; reducing waste and reducing pollution from workplaces. Several workers in their study concluded that individual empowerment positively influences productivity and performance, and facilitates self-control, individual thinking, and problem-solving skills.
The scope of employee relations should be broadened by initiating a suggestion scheme within the organization, wherein each and every employee from top most to the lowest level gets an opportunity to contribute to the scheme. This practice will help in creating greater awareness on green issues besides, new ideas for eco-friendly practices my crop up from different sources.
Other benefits of employee involvement are improvement in employee and organizational health and safety, as well as development of eco-friendly staff. We propose that keeping the policies in place, long-term trust among the management and employees will be built which will provide an opportunity to the employees to express their personal ideas at workplace and help to create climate conducive to green management practices and systems.
Green initiatives for HR
Organizations generally organize HR practices into systems that are consistent with their culture and business strategy. We can say that green initiatives included in HRM manifesto is a part of corporate social responsibility in the long run. Today, organizations are implementing and integrating green initiatives in their agenda with the help of their human resource. Managers make sure that their HR is utilizing green human resource practices in appropriate manner. As an addendum to the statement, several authors have suggested that it is important to promote a great deal of technical and management skills among all employees of the organization in order to implement an effective corporate green management system in companies.
Organizations across the world are incorporating and working toward implementing GHRM practices to gain competitive advantages among the corporate world. Complete adoption and integration of GHRM in business is not impossible but requires a changed approach toward the existing HR practices on part of both the management as well as employees simultaneously. A key role for HR environmental executives could be to guide line managers in terms of gaining full staff co-operation toward implementing environmental policies which means HR needs to nurture supporters and create networks of problem-solvers willing to act to change the current status quo. There are numerous issues related to GHRM that is to be taken into account by HR department before implementing green initiatives and, all of them can be not contained within a single document. Owing to the space limit the following section of the paper briefly focus upon some of the major green initiatives for HR departments.
The organizations round the globe are considerably opting for green building as their workplace and offices as an alternative to traditional offices. The phenomenon is quite trend setting as Green buildings fulfill certain criterion for reducing the exploitation of natural resources that are utilized in their construction. Furthermore, green buildings include some enhanced features related to green practices such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and storm water management. Recent years have witnessed a great upsurge in adoption of green buildings by organizations at a fast pace. The business world has become increasingly aware of the significant role played by green buildings while dealing with environmental issues. Green buildings also serve as a platform for financial savings for organizations as their construction and engineering involve low cost. Business giants like Ford, Pepsico, etc. are committed to sustainability and have included green building design principles into their buildings. Fortune 1000 companies are adopting company-wide sustainability policies that have increased the demand for work space in Green or sustainable buildings.
Most of the work in the office is managed on paper but, with introduction of IT, the consumption of paper has been reduced. Today E-business and learning have changed the methods and procedures at offices converting them into paperless offices. Paperless office is a work place where the use of paper is either restricted or eliminated by converting important official documents and other papers into automated workflows. The practice greatly reduce the consumption of paper, the costs of paper-related actions including copying, printing, and storing, and also save the time used for searching paper documents. Jamie Garratt started Idea Rebel, a Vancouver-based digital agency in 2008, which is a complete paperless office (Borzykowski, 2013). At Idea Rebel, pay stubs are emailed to employees and notes are taken on tablet devices and whiteboards. Designers are allowed to bring in a pad of paper but they have to take the pad to their home at the end of each day. Finally, we assert that by reducing the use of paper, we can directly conserve natural resources, prevent pollution, and reduce wastage of water and energy.
Conservation of energy
Conservation of energy in the office has the potential for a great environmental impact. In an effort to provide more efficient and eco-friendly services, offices around the world have implemented several energy conservation initiatives to reduce the environmental impact. The HR department at the UK arm of Sky has started a campaign where the employees are asked to turn off PCs, TVs, and lights when leaving, to use 100% renewable energy, and introduced solar lighting (Davies & Smith, 2007), Whereas the HR department of other British organizations is emphasizing upon their travel policy which promotes car sharing and the increased use of public transport (Simms, 2007). In addition, HR systems such as e-HR are seen to be able to help management and employees track their own carbon emissions (Beechinor, 2007). Organizations are also promoting the extensive use of energy star-rated light bulbs and fixtures which undoubtedly consumes at least two-thirds less energy than regular ones.
Recycling and waste disposal
Recycling is the methodology of processing used up materials (waste) into new and useful products. Recycling reduces the use of raw materials that would have been otherwise used to produce new products. Consequently, this practice saves energy and reduces the amount of waste that is thrown into the dustbins, thereby making the environment cleaner and the air fresher. As a part of their green initiatives, several organizations are implementing recycling program to increase the amount of recycled products and decrease the amount of waste.
Ever since the organizations embraced the concept of saving money, focusing simultaneously on the environment and sustainability, several human resource professionals were assigned the task of creating company recycling programs and monitoring office thermostats. In the process, many HR professionals ascertained that green initiatives were a necessary aspect of overall corporate social responsibility. At present, the whole corporate world is reciting the old mantra of three Rs—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle to save the environment.