Murray Pullen
Written by
Murray Pullen

Saving the environment is a collective responsibility, but many organizations are failing to play their part.

In fact, a recent study by Gousto revealed that a third of UK businesses surveyed stated that environmental sustainability is not a current priority for them.

This isn’t good enough.

Organizations and their leaders need to take urgent action and make a concerted effort before it’s too late.

Read this guide by HR News for sustainability practices that you can apply within your organization, today.

From the article:

Establish Your Company’s Social Purpose

It is important to work alongside your leadership team to establish your company’s social purpose and decide how the organisation can achieve it. Once you have refined your social purpose, you should think about creating your company’s code of conduct around it. As the HR department’s role is to be a proactive culture consultant to the executive team, HR team members will need to work on developing a clear definition of sustainable company culture. This may involve determining what that means for the organisation, how leaders can be role models, and how employees can have an impact.

Identify Areas of Focus

HR team members can take the lead role in identifying best practice areas of focus to improve sustainability. It may be beneficial to look at various business management short courses that can improve their understanding of sustainability management. The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership offers a comprehensive Business Sustainability Management online short course. It is designed to help leaders pioneer meaningful change throughout their organisation. Therefore, HR professionals can gain the skills and confidence to define and explore opportunities for value creation. They can develop a better understanding of key trends that will enable them to incorporate sustainability into their organisation.

Examine Your Workplace Practices

Next, you should review all your processes and workplace practices to make sure that they’re in line with your sustainability goals and targets. As a result, any areas that are not up to scratch will need to be addressed and a code of ethics will need to be created and communicated to the entire workforce. It is crucial to update your sustainability goals regularly and assess them against the societal issues that they are looking to solve. The HR team should also inform business leaders on how decisions are perceived and what employees think about them.

Switch to Digital Solutions

When people think of environmental sustainability in the workplace, they often associate it with a paperless office. Although this is definitely not a complete solution to becoming an environmentally sustainable company, it’s a good start. One way that the HR team can contribute is by automating some of their tasks. For example, you can automate the performance review process in your organisation with the help of HR software. This will enable you to capture real-time feedback and eliminate the need to print everyone’s performance reviews. HR team members can also implement digital solutions when it comes to policies, payslips, and company documents.

Invest in Reusables

Investing in permanent solutions to eliminate single-use plastics is another great way to incorporate sustainability into the office. For example, instead of stocking the company fridge with bottled water, you can provide employees with reusable water bottles. There are plenty of good options available out there, including self-cleaning bottles that purify your drinking water. You can also give new employees a welcome package of company-branded Tupperware, cutlery, and a metal straw. These simple initiatives can help HR team members create a culture of responsibility, where it is no longer acceptable to produce unnecessary waste in the workplace.

Incorporate Sustainability Into Recruitment and Onboarding

Your organisation’s sustainability goals are also a crucial component of your recruitment and onboarding process. For instance, it might be useful to discuss your sustainability goals during the interview stage of your recruitment. Moreover, you can use sustainability to attract top talent to your organisation. During the onboarding process, you should also explain to each new recruit the importance of your sustainability goals and mission. Remember that if the right people are not there to manifest these goals into actions and results, it will be challenging to incorporate sustainability in the long run.

Provide Appropriate Training

Sustainability initiatives often require specialised knowledge and expertise, such as talking to suppliers about fair wages or sustainable sourcing. Therefore, it is important to set out how your organisation’s sustainability goals have a true societal and environmental impact. Also, you should ensure that each employee is aware of what their part is in achieving these goals. Providing the right training is essential, as it can give employees the factual knowledge they need to make informed decisions. It may also be beneficial to offer employees training on how they can be sustainable in their homes.

Offer Volunteering Opportunities

Another way to create a positive difference is to engage employees in green volunteering opportunities that they would not have known about otherwise. For example, you can encourage them to join company volunteer schemes, take time off to support charities, and nominate causes or charities your organisation should support. As a result, your organisation can have an impact on the community in which it operates. Moreover, when the entire team participates in a worthwhile cause, even for a day, this can foster a sense of teamwork. Working together for a common goal can make it easier to implement other sustainability initiatives.

Act on Employee Ideas

Making use of employee ideas can boost employee engagement and help employees recognise that their suggestions can make a difference. Enable your team from every level to contribute their ideas to the organisation. For example, you can encourage them to send ideas to their managers or set up a dedicated email address that they can use. When staff recommendations are implemented, employees are likely to become more immersed in business sustainability goals. Thanks to their unique insights, you can optimise the organisation’s sustainability strategy.

Nurture Ownership

The HR department has the opportunity to unite the entire workforce behind sustainability and focus on a cause that you can work together on. Although the CEO and the leadership team are responsible for incorporating a sustainable business model, all other employees should be sustainability champions as well. As an HR professional, you should ensure that employees feel that their role at work allows them to contribute to delivering the sustainability agenda at work. In order to do this, it is important to encourage leadership to align recognition and reward programmes to reward positive behaviour and nurture ownership.

Advocate for Company Values

Companies often use big words and come up with elaborate and promising values and mission statements. However, if leadership does not follow through, the sustainability strategy is unlikely to succeed. Therefore, HR team members should develop a consistent and transparent approach to prove that these words are not empty. The HR department is the company’s greatest advocate of values. This is because HR professionals are uniquely positioned within the organisation to have a great impact. As a result, they have the opportunity to build a strong foundation and a sustainable structure that will allow the organisation to achieve its sustainability goals.

Read the full article, here.

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