Green HRM: An Overview

The advancement of mankind and upliftment in the standard of living due to industrialization, urbanization and globalization came at the cost of the natural environment, aggravating nature’s turf which seems to be pernicious. The bygone years have witnessed the corporate world going encyclopedic, resulting in a transitional drift from a customary orthodox financial construct to a modern capacity based economy which is ready to explore and incorporate the green economic dimensions in their business strategies and policies for gaining competitive advantage. Seeing the urgency of incorporating “green” in business strategies and the cautious use of assets, the sustainability issue is a top concern for corporate leaders.



When it comes to the implementation of corporate strategy, the role of organizational human resources cannot be shunned. In order to successfully execute the strategy of environmental sustainability, the organizations must encourage the development of green attitudes and behaviors among employees aligned with the organizational green goals. In this direction, Green HRM has been suggested as one of the tools to implement green initiatives effectively. GHRM can be defined as the utilization of HRM policies and principles for sustainable use of assets within industries and enterprises to proselytize the environmental cause and which in the long run boosts up employee morale and gratification. GHRM is directly credited with creating green culture and workforce that acknowledges the urgency of environmental preservation and practices green policies throughout the HRM processes of recruiting, selecting, training, developing, rewarding, appraising and advancing the firm human capital to successfully achieve the organization’s green goals. Environment-friendly HR initiatives for e.g., electronic record keeping, car-pooling, green building and cafeteria, teleconferencing and virtual interviews, recycling, reusing, online training etc. lead to sizeable and appreciable productivity, reduced costs and positive employee engagement, commitment and retention. Green HRM is an offshoot of the broader facet of corporate social responsibility.


A sustainable organization incorporates in itself the basic HR policies with the “green” touch for e.g., green employee involvement, green behavior, green employee relations, employee empowerment, hiring and selection, green training and developing green values and ethics, green compensation and rewards. Green HRM through the human resource management processes of recruitment, selection, training, performance and reward management aims to create a green workforce that understands, appreciates, and practices green initiatives that help in the achievement of the green goals of the organization. 
Green recruitment guarantees that new recruits acknowledge the organizations’ green climate and share its environmental ethics. Job analysis and job description should clearly specify the organizations’ green objectives and explain what the company expects from their green employees. Hiring people with a green mindset makes it convenient for the organizations to admit professionals who are well informed with the sustainable practices of recycling, reusing, conservation and creating a more ecological world. 
Zoogah (2011) proposed that environmental training and development aims to refine employees’ consciousness and understanding of burning ecological issues, construct favorable attitude, take a proactive perspective regarding environmental affairs and build competencies to save energy and minimize waste. Environmental training incorporates green values in the employees and increases their green behavior and consciousness toward the preservation of the environment, thereby, leading to better performance of the environmental management system. 
Performance management (PM) is a method through which employees are encouraged to upgrade their professional abilities so that the objectives of the organization can be met in a judicious way. It also focuses on the use of environmental resources judiciously and maintaining intergenerational equity. 
Rewards and compensation are of paramount importance in HRM processes since they recognize and appreciate employees for their green participation and performance thereby acknowledging their responsible environmental practices. Rewards (whether in cash or appraisal) not only increases employees task-related green behavior but also foster their extra-role green behavior, thus increasing employees’ performance, satisfaction, importance, motivation, commitment and retention. 
Green involvement is about employees’ participation in framing new environmental policies along with gathering feedback to rectify the prevailing ones thereby motivating them, making them accountable and seeking their positive assistance in the greening of the organization. 
Mandip (2012) proposed that by forming environmental teams (green teams) of “eco- intrapreneurs” employee involvement in eco-friendly activities can be promoted. Eco-intrapreneurs are those personnel who are environmentally oriented, having the requisite passion and skills to redesign the organization’s human, capital and natural assets in such a manner that it adds green values to its products and services. 
Leitch et al. (1995) described employee empowerment as “the importance of giving employees both the ability and the responsibility to take active steps to identify problems in the working environment that affect quality or customer service and deal effectively with them”. Implementation of the company’s green goals in a financially sound and environmentally judicious manner can only be possible when the employees are empowered. 
Employee green behavior (EGB) refers to employees’ behavior in the workplace leading to environmental sustainability. 

The essentiality of human resource management for organizational sustainability is justified because (a) human resource has the capability to incorporate sustainability in the organizational anatomy and unify green goals with the strategic developmental goals of the company, (b) organizations having environmentally sustainable HRM policies require a long term focus and actions which anticipates the quest for an exclusively abstemious performance (c) with organizations growing global, sustainability is the ongoing paradigm of HRM and (d) contemporary HRM has to be efficacious to cater to the needs of the multiple shareholders, customers and associates of a company. Thus, it can be concluded that human resource management plays a vital role in bringing the green HR policies into implementation.

The term GHRM has become the tinnitus word within the corporate and business field nowadays and its importance is mounting constantly with the passage of time. But the practice of implementing green in the HR framework is still not well-versed with most organizations. The rise of environmentalism globally has led to a proliferation of research studies around green marketing, green accounting, green management, green retailing etc. In comparison, the research on Green HRM is still in a very nascent stage. Although GHRM is still struggling in its debut stage, the immediate need and protagonist role of organizations in conserving the environment has compelled them to adopt eco-friendly HR strategies with a specific cynosure on recycling, reusing, minimizing the carbon footprint, using and producing green products and effective waste management. Organizations have redesigned their HR policies keeping sustainability in view which can be seen in green job requirements and heading, specifications, descriptions, green slogans, written policy declaration, marketing strategies, investments, appraisal practices, product design and manufacturing processes. The future of GHRM is multi-faceted and requires vigilance to recognize its prospective impact on HRM issues. However, it has to be accepted that as this field is under-researched and there is still obscurity enveloping the effective implementation of green HR management policies in organizations universally to accomplish complete unquestionable green corporate culture.

Written By:

Aakansha Raj

Aakansha holds a master's degree in biotechnology and is currently working as a research scholar. An avid reader, Aakansha finds keen interest in reading and writing on areas related to clean energy and zero carbon emissions.

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