Today, customers, business partners, job candidates, and current employees are increasingly concerned about how companies address the issue of sustainable development. It is crucial for companies to implement sustainable practices in their operations and individual processes. Striking a balance between economic benefits, taking care of the planet, and acting in accordance with human needs is a huge challenge that is usually entrusted to specialized teams or directors. However, the HR department, responsible for managing human resources and employer branding, should be actively involved in implementing sustainable development practices. In today’s blog post, we will explain the role of HR in sustainable business. Read on.
The role of HR in sustainable business - table of contents:
What is the role of HR in sustainable business?
Most often, the slogan “corporate sustainability” is associated with activities aimed at protecting the environment – minimizing the impact of humans on the planet to preserve it for future generations. However, you can’t forget that this model is directed at balancing not only economic (trade, production, investment, etc.) and environmental aspects, but also social ones – it is equally important to meet human needs in such areas as education, health, safety, equality, and social justice.
How can HR support sustainable business growth?
What is the connection between sustainable practices and the work of the HR department? The HR department supports this model primarily when it recruits HR specialists. Creating a team that ensures a balance between seeking profit and economic efficiency, and meeting employees’ needs and minimizing environmental impact is the first step to change within the company. However, that’s not all – a key area where HR can support the sustainable development of a company is, of course, related to the social dimension, i.e. the employees and improving the quality of their work.
Human resources and sustainable development
As part of the social dimension of the presented concept, striving to improve the quality of employee’s life, providing them with a sense of security, supporting them in acquiring new skills or ensuring a work-life balance are promoted. Here we list the 3 most important practices in which HR can engage in this area.
Building the right organizational culture
HR departments should work to define and promote values related to the pursuit of harmonious development – including social responsibility, environmental protection and equal opportunities. In building such an organizational culture, it will certainly be helpful to employ people who share the same values, and to organize training aimed at raising employees’ awareness of the impact of their actions on the environment and society as a whole. They can also provide flexible work hours or programs that support employees’ health and well-being.
Ensuring fair employment conditions for all employees
Equal employment opportunities, career prospects, fair pay and treatment regardless of an employee’s race, gender, color, nationality or age – these are just some of the elements that fit well with the principles of business sustainability. They become particularly important in the era of globalization and remote work, where cross-cultural collaborations are increasingly common and valued for their positive effects on diversity of skills and perspectives. The role of HR as the entity responsible for shaping personal policy, and thus having the ability to implement appropriate practices is therefore crucial here.
Shaping benefits policy with people and the environment in mind
Many companies are now offering extra days off for charitable or environmental activities as a way to encourage employees to engage in actions that support sustainable development. HR can play a crucial role in fostering partnerships with social and environmental organizations, especially those focused on the needs of the local community, which can bring benefits to individual employees and the company as a whole, while also positively impacting employer branding.
Businesses significantly affect both the state of the environment and the way people live. The need to seek a balance between economic profit and social responsibility is a key element for the company’s external image, the process of attracting new employees, and activities aimed at establishing cooperation, etc. Every employee should be involved in the implementation of sustainable practices, but the HR department certainly has the greatest potential in this area. Therefore, it’s worth thinking about how HR can support business sustainability, which will definitely bring positive results in the long run.
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