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Role of HR in Sustainable Businesses

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Human resource professionals should play a prominent role in creating and implementing sustainability in the workplace. These strategies should have a big impact on business processes, employee morale, and the organization’s public image (or branding).

Sustainability is most effective when integrated into a business’s strategic framework rather than manufactured as feel-good exercises for employees and leaders. The use of sustainability programs is growing rapidly due to the large number of benefits proper HR strategies provide.

Why Are HR Sustainability Strategies Beneficial?

Overall, sustainability programs can boost a company’s bottom line because they attract and retain talent within an organization. HR sustainability is an integral part of any business’s corporate culture. Without a positive culture, employee morale will be significantly reduced.

HR management is essential in helping an organization improve its efficiency, supporting the realignment of an organization’s further direction and solving environmental, ethical issues.

HR can produce happier employees if they stress a company’s job security and excellent working conditions. As the organization’s moral compass, HR departments that focus on maximizing employee engagement must promote policies that are sustainable for humans.

What’s Included in an HR Sustainability Initiative?

Although implementing a sustainability strategy is vital for all businesses, the vast majority of HR leaders aren’t involved in its creation. However, HR staff members are in the perfect position to initiate these policies due to their training and direct connection to their employees.

HR leaders have a better idea of what works for the employees in their place of work because they interact with them daily. Since sustainability is defined as the commitment by organizations to balance financial performance with employee-based quality of life contributions, the department that does the payroll and interviewing couldn’t be more equipped for this job.

Human resources professionals can use their training to invest in the following key drivers:

  • Societal contributions
  • Competitive financial advantages
  • Money-saving initiatives
  • Environmental considerations
  • Health and safety protocols

The strategic role of HR links ethical principles, HR functions, and corporate social responsibility. HR staff can use “everyday tools” to support sustainability programs, such as:

  • Engagement techniques that focus on transparent and open communication styles.
  • Organizing regular meetings that foster soft skills like understanding and respect.
  • Motivational theories that have a base in intrinsic and extrinsic values.
  • Applying analytical skills when determining the organization’s next move.

People skills are especially important for a sustainable business. The end goal for HR is to create a harmonious environment that improves an organization’s performance.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Sustainability Initiative?

Most organizations can’t deny that improved loyalty, increased brand recognition, stronger image, skyrocketing morale, and efficiency are worth implementing a sustainability initiative. 

However, the lack of support from leaders, the cost of launching and maintaining sustainability strategies, the difficulty of measuring return, and the lack of internal knowledge or capacity make it almost impossible for some HR staff to follow through with a program commitment.

Still, making your employees happier is the single best thing you can do for your bottom line.

How HR Sustainability Programs See a Return on Investment

Having happy employees is incredibly important for the performance and survival of any organization. Happier employees are better team players, work harder, and are generally more productive. Why? Because happy employees actually care about you and your company.

An SHRM study found that 47% percent of companies that initiated an HR sustainability program saw a return on investment, 46% said it was too early to tell, and 6% were breaking even. No company in this study saw a dip in their Return on Investment (ROI).

HR sustainability programs also benefit from telecommuting and remote work flexibility. US employers were saving 30$ billion every day while their employees worked remotely.

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