October 17, 2022

Sustainability and HR

When it comes to sustainability, HR plays a vital role in creating and implementing the strategy- from the hiring process throughout the employee's lifecycle.

Sustainability has become one of the main concerns of today’s world. Both individuals and organizations are focusing on this matter and hoping to avoid the consequences. But significant changes are without a doubt a necessity. It’s a worldwide team effort. When it comes to organizations and their part in this endeavour, HR plays a key role in sustainability. 

Innovative technologies and practices that an organization develops as their new or improved products and services are a great way towards a sustainable future. The role of HR in this is a bit different, it does not have such a direct impact. HR creates the right environment in an organization to support sustainability. It makes sure that the strategy, practices and people are in line with the sustainability goals. This way, the organization as a whole is shifting towards a more sustainable future.

Sustainability is a two-way street

HR starts with its efforts early on, through the recruitment and onboarding process. Sure, they are looking for the most qualified candidates, but HR makes sure that from the start of one’s employee experience, sustainability goals and values are somewhat embedded. This way there will be fewer misunderstandings about the company’s view of the future and its initiatives. 

Sustainability efforts and values in the hiring process go both ways. Job seekers are also looking for companies that have these values, and prefer to work in a company that supports them. Having a more sustainable outlook will make you a more attractive employer and will also boost employee health and happiness. That is why it’s important to add sustainability as a core value. Not only will you be able to attract talent, but retain them as well. 

Reduced carbon footprint

Switching to innovative technologies in basically any aspect of HR will be a great improvement. If we only take collecting and storing data as an example, it is incredible how much paper, storage and energy can be saved. We’ve already talked about AI-based technologies in the hiring process, and just imagine what big of a difference it makes. Fewer resources are being used, thus reducing the carbon footprint. 

Now when we talk about technology and sustainability, they go hand in hand. Innovations in communication have made remote and hybrid working possible. Thanks to technology, people don’t even have to travel as much for meetings. This also helps reduce the carbon footprint, because offices aren’t used as often, lowering utility costs and less fuel is used in the commute. 

Sustainable vs. Socially Responsible  

Sustainable does not mean Socially responsible even though they might intertwine from time to time. Sustainability refers to meeting the needs of present generations without them compromising the fulfilment of the needs of future generations. It is future-oriented and has a wider focus than social responsibility. It is a long-term effort to maximize economic, environmental and social values. Social Responsibility is more focused on current stakeholders’ interests and is often used to shape public and/or political views. Both should be practised, but sustainability has more long-term reach. 

Redefining your core values and creating a sustainable strategy to support these values is the job of any and every HR department. With all the opportunities technologies open, sometimes it just takes a bit of imagination and stepping outside the box to notice all the different and sustainable ways a task can be done. With such opportunities, it is almost impossible not to shift towards a more sustainable future. 

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