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Green Human Resources Management – Meaning and Definition

Last modified on 28thMay 2021

What are the meaning, definition, and advantages of Green Human Resources Management?

Those working in HR departments and in charge of managing the workforce of companies and helping set a great culture have an important role to play in the development of sustainability strategies to protect planet Earth. Let’s find out how.

Green Human Resources Management Definition & Meaning

Simple Green Human Resources Management Definition

Green Human Resources Management (GHRM) can be defined as a set of policies, practices, and systems that stimulate the green behavior of a company’s employees in order to create an environmentally sensitive, resource-efficient, and socially responsible organization.

Sustainability’s Official Green Human Resources Management Definition

The growing role of sustainable development in the development of a modern company’s competitive edge leads to the popularization of the question of how to incorporate ecological practices into the area of human resource policy – which is often referred to as Green Human Resources Management (HRM).”

Why is Green Human Resources Management Important?

Sustainability strategies are growing fast within thousand of companies nowadays as an answer to the challenges and catastrophes that climate change has brought, and increasingly threatens to bring into our world.

The private sector plays a fundamental role in the fight to stop climate change. For companies to succeed and move forward in their sustainability journey, a top-down approach is essential, as is the support of VPs and the senior management – including People and HR.

So what is Green Human Resources Management really accountable for?

Practices and Policies of Green Human Resources Management

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Green Human Resources Management – Recruitment & Job Design

Green Human Resources Management starts even before getting new employees are hired.

It goes all the way back to the process of designing or approving, together with other departments, job descriptions (JD) for the newcomers. And why does it matter?

Because JDs that highlight tasks related to sustainability – or even job advertisements – shows companies have social and ecological concerns, ultimately improving a company’s employer branding proposition.

Green Human Resources Management – Selection Methods

After screening CV screenings, HR can make sure the next steps of the selection process will evaluate the candidates’ aptitude to have green behaviors. An ordinary question about climate change during an interview or a group dynamic that mixes a business case with sustainability issues are two easy ways to understand someone’s degree of ecological awareness.

Alternatively, asking for proof of some sort of sustainability training (even if online) and certificate can also the recruiter some time while allowing to draw some conclusions too.

In the end, a green score can also be given to each candidate and added to the overall spreadsheet of scores (if the traditional selection method taught in HR courses si being followed) that will ultimately rank the top candidates.

Green Human Resources Management – HR Operations and the Onboarding Process

Technology allows companies to become paperless and for HR this can well start with newcomers.

Online portals and folders can be used to archive employees’ documentation such as offer letters, credentials, CVs, or recommendation letters. Not to mention that nowadays CVs are mostly sent throughout the Internet, with no need of being print. It can as well be used with current employees’ health insurance or car contracts, salary, or information on other benefits.
Furthermore, when newcomers first arrive at the office, induction initiatives should be designed in such a way as to facilitate the integration of these new employees with the company’s green culture and values. This way, besides introducing the company, its history, culture, departments, and so on, these initiatives also highlight a companies’ environmental concerns and the green actions that have been and/or are being developed

Green Human Resources Management – Performance Management (PM)

Performance management (PM) is the process by which employees are prompted to enhance their professional skills that help to achieve the organizational goals and objectives in a better way.

How can employee performance improve when it comes to sustainability? No metrics, no fun: meaning employees should have responsibilities and metrics for their roles that include sustainability targets. By having job descriptions that include “green” tasks, companies are also proactively summing point in case they decide to apply for the B Certification, the highest (and sexiest) corporate sustainability standard.

Ideally, these goals would be set following the OKR method where global business goals would be interconnected and cascading into different areas and departments.

In the end, the ultimate goal of Green PM is to have a measurable outcome of an organization’s ability to meet its environmental objectives and targets.

Green Human Resources Management – Learning and Development

green human resources management learning
Learning and development is a practice that focuses on developing employees’ skills, knowledge, and attitudes. The goals of green training and development are:

  • To create awareness about the current environmental problems happening worldwide – through newsletters or briefings with environmental organizations from time to time;
  • To educate more employees about working methods that allow to reduce waste, save energy and resources – e.g. recycling, turning lights off or shutting down laptops;
  • To teach more operational employees and business decision-makers about processes along the companies’ value-chain that allow to reduce waste, save energy and resources – like applying circular economy to waste or rethinking the sources of energy;
  • To encourage workers to find out opportunities in their jobs to help their companies become more sustainable;
  • Overall, to push for an environmental protection mindset on a company’s workforce, wishing that it acts consciously today and is alert for opportunities to become more sustainable in the future.

Green Human Resources Management – Compensation and Benefits (Comp & Ben)

Simply put, Green Comp and Ben recognizes the contribution of employees in the creation of a more sustainable company. It is the result of the success of employees in their performance (PM) and works as proof that a company’s strategic sustainability goals are being accomplished (at least up to some degree). There are three different types of rewards:

  • Monetary-based rewards – in the form of salary increase, cash incentives, and bonuses;
  • Non-monetary rewards – sabbaticals, special leaves, discounts, or gifts to employees;
  • Recognition-based rewards – highlighting the green contributions of employees through wide publicity, public praise, and appreciation of sustainability efforts by the top management.

It is nevertheless important to keep in mind that such a system with effective monetary incentives can be challenging to develop as a fair and accurate evaluation of environmental behaviors and performance can be hard to do.

Green Human Resources Management – Ways of going green

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To help build a sustainable company it is crucial to promote ‘eco-intrapreneurs’ – aka internal champions – that add value to the organization’s products and/or services and help build a sustainability culture.

This often means encouraging employees to get involved and participate in the social and environmental initiatives organized by companies such as paying (100% or less) employees’ public transportation travel cards, encouraging internal car-sharing or implementing working from home (WFH) policies.

And then, of course, the basics: encouraging the use of porcelain mugs and glasses for tea and coffee; promoting the 5R’s (refuse, reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle) at the office; or using electronic archives and electronic signatures to avoid wasting paper.

Green Human Resources Management – Leaving the Company

For the strict compliance of the green strategies and policies, and depending on the seriousness of the mistake and its impact, companies can take certain actions where ecologically unfriendly behavior may constitute a breach of contract and possible ground for dismissal. If this happens, it is really important to make exit interviews to evaluate the perception of employees on the company’s ecological practices.

Benefits of Green Human Resources Management

Green HRM has its prime importance in the achievement of broader objectives such as cost-saving, improving corporate social responsibility practices and making companies more attractive, employer branding-wise. According to Parul Deshwal, it has the following benefits:

  • Helps with employee retention and reduces labor turnover;
  • Improves a company’s brand reputation in the market and can possibly increase sales;
  • Enhances the quality of the overall organization, both internally and externally;
  • Improves stakeholder’s engagement;
  • Reduces the overall costs of a company as it energy, water, and raw materials are used more efficiently;
  • Helps manage risks more effectively;

In the end, employing a green workforce helps organizations become more comfortable and proud of the impact their offices and other facilities – don’t – have. Furthermore, it helps companies innovate (in a way that allows them to be cost-efficient) and come up with new procedures and products.


Image credits to Shutterstock on green hrmhuman resources appraisal, bike ride & people teamwork.

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