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Approaching “Sustainability” Through HR

For every business in today’s Scenario Sustainability has become a critical factor. While business houses want to move towards sustainability the way towards it is mostly unidentified.

Since the meaning of sustainability differs between individuals and business houses it becomes imperative to understand how to integrate “sustainability” as one of the business goals.

Sustainability from an individual point of view may mean management of resources (With special emphasis on environmental resources) in such a manner that the future generations have access to them and from Business perspective  sustainability can be linked to integrating goals of the business with environmental, social and economic issues in such a manner that the future of the business is secure and all stakeholders (Society, Shareholders, and Employees) are benefitted by it.

HR can facilitate to bind these two perspectives in one frame within a business environment.

How can HR Facilitate?

HR has to have a very defined and critical role to ensure that the company is focused to achieve sustainability as its one of the business goals. The most important factor where HR will be the key is in terms of Change Management.

The shift to Sustainable means and methods of working is gradual. The resistance to accept the new behavior and set of values is bound to be present, to have a strategy to deal with it is a must.

To ensure this transition takes place smoothly and effectively HR plays a vital role. Right from ensuring that the operational and management processes are redesigned in effective manner to incorporate the sustainability factor, to effective communication from the top level in terms of relative importance of the measures taken by each individual towards this goal.

Well-defined HR functions can contribute towards sustainability very effectively.

Illustration to support this statement is listed below:

  • Recruitment : HR should aim at Selective recruitment, whereby potential employees are selected giving due consideration to whether that person can actually adopt and contribute towards the goal of business sustainability. Developing a competency framework whereby behaviors related to sustainability should be defined and competency based recruitment should be carried out
  • Organization Structure : By ensuring within the organization structure there are specific Position/People which are accountable for delivering measurable results concerning sustainability goals. Or The goals are linked to each job role 
  • Performance – Measurement : Delivering on Sustainability parameters should be an integral parameter for measuring performance of key employees. The measurable key parameters should be specified in the key Performance indicators for all profiles and should have adequate weightage and measurable goals attached to them
  • Training : Employees should be effectively trained to ensure that they know how, and what sustainability parameters goals can be achieved and by what means. Trainings should be linked to the organization goals and people within the organization should be well aware how they are contributing the goal of sustainability
  • Motivation : Ensuring an environment/Culture is created within the organization whereby employees are motivated to contribute towards sustainable business goals and they feel proud to be associated with them
  • Rewards Management : Linking the rewards with the performance on sustainable goals achieved should be one of the strategic ways of ensuring sustainability remains a key integral of the organizational goals. For eg; rewarding ethical behavior is also part of promoting sustainability goal within the organization

At the end of the day, Sustainability is a goal, which has to be enforced through Top Management; HR can add significant value to it.

What is important to understand is that it’s not something, which one can blend with policies and practices but it’s something which has to be inculcated within the CULTURE of the organization.

Author : Manpreet Gujral
For more queries you can touch base with her at manpreet@accel-hrconsulting.com

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