‘Green’ human resource management helps attract, retain staff

By Mollie Tracey

A business’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy and the way it is embedded in an organisation’s culture can be an important factor in attracting and retaining staff. 

An Australian study from 2021 shows ESG is a moderate factor in employee pride, particularly an organisation's “strong focus on ESG” (35%) and how it “manages environmental impact” (30%). 

CCIWA’s Consumer Confidence research finds unhappiness with workplace culture was the fifth largest (23% of people) reason behind a person’s decision to change jobs.  

Having ‘green human resource management practices’ (GHRM) that focus on helping an organisation create a workforce that understands and appreciates a climate-conscious culture can be a useful tool for attracting and retaining staff. 

ECU Lecturer from the Centre for Work + Wellbeing, Dr Azadeh Shafaei says GHRM includes having an appraisal system that evaluates employees’ environmentally-friendly activities and rewards them accordingly.  

Dr Shafaei’s research, conducted with ECU’s researcher from the Centre for People, Place & Planet Dr Mehran Nejati and Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Dr Yusmani Mohd Yusoff, finds GHRM “positively influences employees’ job satisfaction, and meaningfulness through work is a strong mediator in this relationship”. 

“Our study shows individuals want to work for an organisation that cares about the same issues as them and has similar morals, as this provides them with greater job satisfaction and makes them feel proud to work for that organisation,” Dr Shafaei says. 

“Job satisfaction can translate to passion and innovative work behaviours, which is important for organisations to operate in this competitive world or marketplace.” 

Dr Shafaei says an organisation's dedication to tackling climate change can foster a sense of personal impact. However, organisations’ actions must be authentic, and leadership is crucial in advocating for sustainability initiatives. 

According to Dr Nejati, “it’s all a matter of how genuine organisations are in their sustainability practices and then how they communicate it”.  

“Pretending to be a socially-responsible organisation that cares about society and environment will not result in positive long-term reputational benefits and might do more harm in the long-term for the organisation and its brand,” he says.  

“Taking action comes with a mindset change and awareness and education for leaders to realise what’s happening outside the organisation and why they need to take action.” 

Dr Shafaei’s research specifically looked at inclusive leadership regarding GHRM and found it helped to foster innovation.  

“Leaders need to provide a forum for employees to come up with innovative ideas and feel empowered to do so. Inclusive leaders can foster this through creating a psychologically safe environment in which employees can thrive,” she says.  

“In our research, we’ve seen that leadership that demonstrates openness and flexibility to employees, and ensures employees are heard, no matter if they are from any marginal group or minority, helps accentuate this relationship between green human resource management and employees’ innovative behaviour.  

“This means an organisation will have a stronger impact implementing green human resource management if they have inclusive leadership.” 

CCIWA provides training and coaching support for leaders, managers, and supervisors dealing with supporting mental health in the workplace, and advice on policies and practices that help to enable a more supportive working environment.  

Call (08) 9365 7496 or email [email protected]. 

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