This week I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting where businesses and agencies came together to look at the issue of sustainability. Greater Manchester Councils have set an ambitious agenda of being carbon neutral by 2038. A lot of the messages were about looking at the ‘low hanging fruit’. Businesses are encouraged to look at LED lighting, solar panels, fleet management etc. Residential properties may look at being retro-fitted to be more environmentally sound (where it is appropriate to do so). All the above makes sense. But as an HR professional, it got me thinking how do HR and sustainability go together? Can HR contribute to the sustainability agenda?
HR and sustainability
At first glance the links aren’t obvious. After all, we can’t create greener transport by ourselves or provide energy efficient buildings. However, there are processes and policies we can contribute to.
One of the most obvious links between HR and sustainability is our ability to influencing the homeworking agenda. Now homeworking won’t work for every industry but there are some organisations that enforce office working when there is no need to do so. The Department of Transport issued a report that said 68% of all journeys to work were conducted by car in 2017. That’s over 27% of all car journeys in the UK every year. So there is a clear benefit to be had from allowing people to work from home and a serious amount of emissions would be saved as a result.
If home working can’t work for your organisation, can a flexible start and leave time be implemented? This way traffic at peak times can be reduced. Cars moving more freely will reduce emissions and may allow employees to complete tasks such as the school run on foot, reducing more short car journeys.
HR can also introduce employee benefits that promote the use of other modes of transport. Aside from the usual cycle to work initiatives, car sharing could be promoted or even incentivised. Health and Wellbeing strategies could also strengthen the link between HR and sustainability. Step based challenges such as the one run by Virgin Pulse may encourage competitive employees to ditch the car for other modes of transport.
Do HR and sustainability go together?
So hopefully this article has helped stimulate some thought. There’s probably a lot more to be thought about and I’m sure you can come up with other suggestions that I’ve not thought about. However, the point is HR and sustainability can and should go together.
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