What is Green HR?

Over the years, the pressure of creating a sustainable, environmentally-friendly business environment has become an ever-growing social issue. It is evident that urgent action is required to resolve these issues, as a result, people are developing and implementing sustainability initiatives.

The need for sustainability can further be recognised in the business world. Organisations now operate with environmentally friendly supply chains and try to decrease the use of natural resources, in an attempt to preserve the environment and our planet.

Similar techniques and methods of preservation are being utilised and seen throughout HR. The concept of Green HR has been devised with a focus of creating a HR function that supports, and is in line with, an organisation’s sustainability strategy. Methods of Green HR encompass different HR processes, and the training and development of employees, to ensure that they are committed to the sustainability goals of the organisation. Teaching about methods of sustainability and providing reasoning for their introduction into the organisation will encourage employees to utilise Green practices where possible.


The term ‘Green’ is largely associated with practices that support and benefit the environment, and this can be widely seen in HR through small changes that can make considerable differences. Slight changes such as the encouragement of recycling, utilising low energy alternatives and reducing waste can be introduced to office environments. However, Green HR does not just have to focus on making physical changes to achieve sustainability; it can involve being ethical and creating fair practices for employees. Although it’s not necessary to increase the productivity of employees, a Green environment is appealing and can increase motivation and engagement within the organisation.


Companies such as Google, IBM, Honda, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks, and GE have already made significant efforts towards Green HRM and general sustainability. So how are companies doing it?


Green practices HR can implement:


  • Green Internal and External Communications –

    HR can ensure that company communications are environmentally friendly and sustainable by going paperless. This would involve utilising electronic communications such as employing the use of an intranet, instead of flyers for internal communication. Also creating an email newsletter to communicate with contractors or clients, instead of sending them direct mail. Or even utilising technology when conducting training sessions, instead of printing materials.

  • Green Training and Development –

    An increasing number of HR professionals are incorporating sustainability into their training modules, even holding specific sessions around eco-consciousness. This could involve anything from training based on everyday practices such as responsible recycling, to reducing waste in terms of resources and materials, to the efficient use of company equipment and powering down.

  • Green Recruitment –

    HR can also further their commitment by hiring like-minded, environmentally focussed people. Businesses are also beginning to incorporate Green job descriptions with environmental aspects in their recruitment process, and providing ‘Green information packs’ in their induction process. Furthermore, being perceived as a Green employer is also attractive to candidates and can assist your business in securing top talent.

  • Green Employee Relations –

    As Employee Relations focuses on developing a strong, positive employer-employee relationship, Green practices can further reinforce this. This could involve incorporating a Green suggestion scheme, whereby any employee can advise the organisation on ways to be more environmentally friendly. Or even giving employees leeway to experiment with different Green initiatives.

  • Green Work-Life Balance –

    HR can also recognise that employees wish to continue their sustainability efforts outside of their working lives, and consider how they can be more ‘eco-conscious’ in their personal lives, especially in terms of consumption. An organisation can support this by offering employees paid time off to volunteer or attend conservation conferences, or simply by providing them with resources to assist their ‘Green lifestyle’ outside of work.

  • Supporting sustainable charities –

    If HR control or have a say in the charities that their organisation support, choosing a charity that supports environmental sustainability practices, such as Green Peace, WWF, Friends of The Earth, can also further the cause.


If you’d like to know how you can make a difference, encourage and support the use of Green HR practices in your organisation. Or on an individual level, for some guidance visit OurPlanet.Com.


Author: Max Pheysey

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