Sustainability has become a more integral part of many companies’ operations in recent years.
A McKinsey & Company survey of executives in a range of industries and regions found 43 percent of organizations are now trying to align sustainability efforts with their overall business goals, mission or values. Company leaders are also increasingly seeing sustainability as a top CEO priority.
Although HR departments aren’t often in charge of enterprise-wide sustainability practices — more than half (54 percent) say they have no role or just a minor part in managing company sustainability efforts, according to Center for Effective Organizations research — some may find they’re being asked to identify, adopt and promote green initiatives in the workplace and within their department.
Creating a greener office can seem like an overwhelming undertaking. However, there are some fairly easy-to-implement sustainability practices that can increase energy efficiency and conserve resources, without requiring massive renovations or a hefty monetary investment.
The following alterations can help you green human resource management, along with other operational aspects:
Centralize document storage and use
Paper use can be reduced by 20 percent or more in most offices, according to the WWF. Moving some aspects of HR, such as training materials and health insurance documents, to an intranet can help reduce the need to print items out to share them.
Some companies have made major strides in decreasing paper use. Several years ago, GreenBiz reported that UPS had moved to an entirely electronic talent acquisition process, which allowed the shipping company to eliminate all paper — including brochures, forms, reports and other items — that had previously been used during hiring.
Tweak the temperature
Setting your office thermostat just three to five degrees higher than it is now and using fans to enhance air movement and maintain comfort can save about three percent on cooling costs, according to a U.S. Small Business Administration recommendation.
Use a new type of light bulb
Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star-certified CFL lighting, which lasts about 10 times longer — and costs roughly 75 percent less to operate.
Try to have a greener office fridge
Direct Energy recommends cleaning your break room refrigerator’s coils twice a year and, if a dollar bill easily slips out when you close it between the door’s seals, consider installing new gaskets to increase energy efficiency.
Swap out workstation devices over time
When replacing computers, opt for laptops — they consume less than half the energy desktop computers do, according to EnergyAustralia, which also suggests using monitors that are 2 inches smaller than you currently have to reduce energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.
Green human resource management, in addition to other company sustainability efforts, can have an often unexpected positive effect.
Morale has been found to be higher in 55 percent of companies with robust sustainability programs; studies have also shown companies with greater corporate responsibility performance can reduce average turnover by as much as 50 percent over time, according to an article published in the Harvard Business Review.
For that to happen, however, presumably, employees have to be aware your organization is investing in sustainability and other CSR efforts. Find out how some companies are managing and communicating aspects of their corporate social responsibility initiative; how focusing on elements that inspire company pride — like an investment in sustainability — can help drive engagement and the effect corporate philanthropy programs can potentially have on retention in some of our previous blog posts.
Our post on sharing your diversity initiative successes may also provide some tips to help you convey your sustainability practices to employees and other external parties.