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Green HRM - The future of HR work

07/03/2024 2024/03

What is Green HRM?

Green HRM, also known as Green Human Resource Management, is much more than a buzzword. It is a revolutionary approach to human resource management that aims to integrate environmental awareness and responsibility into all HR practices and processes. From recruitment to development and retention, it is a holistic approach that aims not only to minimise a company's environmental impact, but also to promote a sustainable working culture.

Why is Green HRM important?

The importance of Green HRM is obvious: both climate change and environmental degradation are serious global challenges, and Green HRM is also becoming increasingly important in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There is a growing need for companies to organise their activities according to the triple bottom line, which consists of economic, social and environmental aspects. The triple bottom line describes sustainability as a three-pillar model in which ecology, economy and social aspects are harmonised so that economic growth is no longer achieved solely at the expense of the environment. At the social level of the triple bottom line, investment in workplace health, education and training, equal treatment and diversity management play a central role in HR management. Green HRM acts as a counterpart to the social dimension and focuses on the environmental dimension, helping companies to minimise their environmental impact and promote a sustainable working culture. The Supply Chain Act has already highlighted the responsibility of businesses to operate in a sustainable, resource-efficient way. Green HRM provides a concrete framework by enabling organisations to use their resources more efficiently, reduce their carbon footprint and build a motivated and engaged workforce.

The benefits of Green HRM

But what exactly are the benefits of Green HRM? They are many, and go far beyond the purely environmental. By implementing Green HRM, companies can not only save costs, but also increase their attractiveness as an employer. Employees who feel that their company takes environmental awareness seriously are also more motivated and committed to their work. This leads not only to higher productivity, but also to a positive corporate culture that contributes to the long-term success of the company.

Employer branding with Green HRM

In recent years, the issues of sustainability and resource conservation have become increasingly important in all areas of life. Today, unlike 10 years ago, skilled workers are also paying more attention to the environmental awareness of companies. In this context, a credible and committed approach to environmental protection can be a key competitive advantage in attracting qualified and sustainability-oriented talent. In addition, Green HRM fosters an environment where employees are proud to work for a company that is actively committed to environmental protection and sustainability. Green HRM can also have a positive impact on employee retention. Sustainability efforts show that a company is not only looking to make a profit, but also to make a long-term contribution to society. This strengthens the emotional bond between employees and the company's mission statement.

HR Development: the key role of managers

The structured promotion of environmental attitudes and behaviour is another important task of Green HRM. Managers have a crucial role to play here and should ideally act as role models. If managers actively promote greater sustainability and set an example of environmentally conscious behaviour in everyday life, this will also increase the environmental commitment of employees. The issue should therefore be addressed specifically at management level and integrated into leadership development activities. In this way, managers lay the foundations for an attractive organisation of New Work practices and a correspondingly ecologically oriented corporate culture.

Sustainable recruitment

Green HRM is often used as a catch-all term for an overall sustainable HR policy. Especially in the context of recruitment and retention, it is clear which companies are already thinking long-term and giving their talent time to grow. The EU's CSR directive also includes socially responsible human resources management - instead of "hire and fire" when quarterly results are poor, the focus is on a long-term human resources strategy for healthy business growth. Not only raw materials, but also employees want to be valued as a limited renewable resource.

Green HRM and New Work

In the age of New Work, the flexible use of the home office is taking centre stage. This option not only allows for self-determination, but also has a positive impact on the environment. By eliminating the need to travel and reducing rush hour congestion, working from home is becoming an environmentally friendly way of managing human resources. But that's not all: the working environment can also be made greener, for example through paperless offices and fewer business trips, or an environmentally conscious business travel policy. The possibilities are endless - from using local and organic food in snack boxes to providing e-bikes for employees and public transport passes to avoid the need for underground parking. While going green at work may not be sexy, we have put together some tips on how even simple measures can have a positive impact.

Attract environmentally conscious talent with sustainable practices.
Optimieren Sie Ihre Mitarbeitergewinnung mit Green HRM
Optimieren Sie Ihre Mitarbeitergewinnung mit Green HRM

Sustainable behaviour without greenwashing

How can you and your company avoid falling into the trap of greenwashing in your efforts to increase environmental awareness and sustainability? Greenwashing is the practice of appearing to be environmentally conscious through superficial measures such as financial donations or environmental projects, without actually acting sustainably.

It is important that you only implement measures that you believe in. Whether it's a joint office gardening campaign or using recycled paper for promotional materials, every action you take is a step in the right direction. Large, elaborate campaigns or expensive donations are not necessary to promote a sustainable culture. More important are honest and authentic actions that are supported by all employees.

An important aspect is the credibility of actions. This can only be achieved if sustainability is not just promoted by management or the HR department, but is practised by the entire workforce. Sustainability must be an integral part of the company's strategy. The HR department in particular has a central role to play here, as it is in direct contact with employees and therefore has a key role to play in promoting a sustainable corporate culture. Through targeted communication and the integration of sustainability aspects as early as the onboarding process, HR can help to ensure that sustainability is not just paid lip service, but is actively practised.

There is also a risk of greenwashing if, for example, you appeal to your employees but fail to address the environmental impact of your products. For example, if your products contribute to increasing CO2 emissions, employees and the public will expect you to research new "green" technologies to reduce this impact. A poster in the canteen asking employees to use fewer napkins for the sake of the environment would be greenwashing.

Optimise your HR with a check-up

One thing is certain: every change requires a first step. In our day-to-day work, we see time and again that a neutral external view helps us to analyse and prioritise areas for improvement. Our Quick HR Fit Check is a simple way to do this. The free questionnaire is a quick and efficient way to evaluate your HR work. With just 5 questions, you will receive brief written feedback on the current status of your HR work. This feedback will provide you with valuable insights and tips on how to optimise your HR work and meet the needs of your candidates and employees - regardless of the size of your organisation. Take the opportunity to review your HR strategy and identify areas for improvement. For a more detailed analysis, you can set your own priorities in the HR SWOT analysis, for example to integrate more Green HRM in your organisation.

About the Author
Valeska Szalla
Development Consultant
Since 2017 I have been writing my success story at ARTS, where I can always add a new chapter through the various projects I have been involved in.

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