Green HRM: Definition, Advantages, Green HRM Practices, Policies

What is Green HRM?GHRM is a new concept and is becoming popular all over the world. It has got different meanings to different people. There is no comprehensive definition of GHRM.

It refers to making efforts to improve energy efficiency or reduce the pollution produced by our home, business, and general living habits.

The main purpose of going green is to reduce the potential negative impact that energy consumption and pollution can have on the environment.

What is Green HRM?

Ramachandran defines Green HRM as the integration of environmental management into human resources management.

The term green HRM is mostly used to refer to the contribution of HRM policies and practices towards the broader corporate environmental agenda.

It refers to using every employee to support sustainable practices and increase employee awareness and commitments on the issue of sustainability.

Anjana Nath defines Green HR as environment-friendly HR initiatives leading to better efficiencies, less cost, and heightened employee engagement levels.

Typical green activities are performed to travel requirements through video recruiting or the use of online and video interviews.

It involves undertaking environment-friendly HR initiatives resulting in greater efficiencies, lower costs and better employee engagement and retention, which in turn, help organizations to reduce employee carbon footprints by the likes of electronic filing, car-sharing, job-sharing, teleconferencing, and virtual interviews, recycling, telecommuting, online training, energy-efficient office spaces, etc.

Green HR initiatives help companies find alternative ways to cut costs without losing their top talent. Focus on Green HRM as a strategic initiative promotes sustainable business practices.

Therefore, developing a new organizational culture through GHRM practices becomes a manager’s concern. Developing a green culture can affect employee behavior and introduce certain values that build an internal culture.

Green behavior is assumed to be instrumental in the implementation of the green HRM culture and adopting formal environmental strategies.

According to Mandip, the practice of green HR should be translated into the HR processes, such as recruitment, training, compensation, etc.

From the definitions stated above, it can be concluded that Green HRM needs the participation of all the organization’s members to create and keep the organization green.

Benefits/Advantages of Green HRM

Green HRM involves undertaking environment-friendly HR initiatives resulting in greater efficiency, lower costs and better employee engagement and retention, which in turn, help organizations to reduce employee carbon footprints by electronic filing, car sharing, job sharing, teleconferencing, and virtual interviews, recycling, telecommuting, online recruitment and training, energy-efficient office spaces, etc.

The Green Human Resource Management plays an important role in the industry to promote the environment-related issues.

Organizations must formulate HR policies and practices, train people to increase awareness about the environment, and implement laws related to environmental protection.

The Green HRM may also help the employers, manufacturers in building brand image and reputation.

Organizations need to conduct an environmental audit, thus changing the organizational culture, thinking about waste management, pollution, and helping the society and its people, those are getting affected by pollution.

It will also make employees and society members aware of the utilization of natural resources more economically and encourage eco-friendly products.

Experts have identified the benefits of GHRM, which are mentioned below:

  1. Helping companies to bring down costs without losing their talent.
  2. Organizations have huge growth opportunities by being green and creating a new friendly environment, which helps in enormous operational savings by reducing their carbon footprint.
  3. It helps in achieving higher employee job satisfaction and commitment, which leads to higher productivity and sustainability.
  4. Create a culture of having concern for the wellbeing and health of fellow workers.
  5. Improvement in the retention rate of the employee.
  6. Improved public image. Any time a firm adds a green initiative to its workplace, it can use the event to generate positive public relations. Organizations can promote environmental contributions to the media through press releases to earn the attention of potential customers and possible new sales.
  7. Promote employee morale.
  8. Improvement in attracting better employees. Dolan’s (1997) study of USA MBA students found that most of the graduates would take a lower salary to work for environmentally responsible organizations.
  9. Reduction in the environmental impact of the company.
  10. Improved competitiveness and increased overall performance.
  11. Reduction of utility costs significantly. Even small businesses can significantly reduce their utility costs by using technologies that are energy-efficient and less wasteful.
  12. Rebates and Tax Benefits. Going green is easier with the assistance of governments, local municipalities, Water supply authority, and electric companies that offer tax incentives and rebates.
  13. Increased business opportunities. Some government agencies, commercial businesses, and nonprofit institutions mandate that only businesses that meet specific green standards can bid on their contracts. Some also mandate that their purchasing departments only buy green products or use products and services sold by companies that meet certain green standards.
  14. Reduction of environmental damage. Encouraging employees, through training and compensation, to find ways to reduce the use of environmentally damaging materials.

Today, most educated and affluent consumers look for companies that adopt environmental standards. Organizations pursuing environment-friendly human resource policies are also immensely benefitted.

This may help in arriving at greener products and green savings from waste elimination. The promotion of such values may also indirectly improve consumer satisfaction.

Disadvantages of GHRM

While environmentally friendly living is a positive ideal, there are several possible disadvantages of going green. Gregory Hamel has made a review of the disadvantages if an organization is going green.

The major disadvantages are listed below;

  • Initial costs.
  • Inadequate savings.
  • Increased capital outlays.
  • Uneven competition.
  • Marginal impact.
  • Employee apathy and reluctance.

Initial costs

Perhaps the greatest disadvantage of going green is that it often requires a high initial cost.

For example, installing a new roof or new insulation to keep heat from escaping our home would be considered a green home improvement, but it would cost a large sum of money to get the work done.

Inadequate savings

The aim of going green in many cases, such as building an energy-efficient home or purchasing a hybrid^vehicle is to reduce environmental impact while saving money in the long term.

Green buildings and vehicles tend to use less energy, so initial costs can often be recouped over time through energy savings.

The problem is that the savings generated by going green are often less than expected; they do not make up for the initial cost quickly enough to make them economically viable.

Increased capital outlays

Some green conversions require an initial cash outlay that decreases the firm’s bottom-line performance while the investment is paying for itself. This can decrease the earnings or annual profits of a firm.

Uneven competition

In the business world, going green can be an attractive goal to gain goodwill and consumer support, but unless green improvements are economically viable, it can put a business at a competitive disadvantage.

For instance, if one company decides to adhere to strict, self-imposed pollution standards which require the installation of new technology and workers, while another sets loose standards, the second company will be at an advantage since they will have lower production costs.

Marginal impact

While going green is focused on reducing harm to the environment, the impact that any specific individual can have on the environment by going green is often negligible.

The theory is that if everyone were to go green, it would have a significant and noticeable impact, but not everyone can be convinced to go green, and many believe that doing so has no real impact outside of the economics. This makes going green a personal choice for many.

Employee apathy and reluctance

Many employees feel that it is not their responsibility to protect the environment while they are at work.

But the newly educated workforce is emphasizing on environmental management consciousness when they choose their employers,

How to Implement Green HRM

Jabbour and Santos (2008) consider HRM may contribute to environmental management in companies if they:

  1. recruit and select people committed to the environment;
  2. train and evaluate employees’ performance based on environmental criteria;
  3. implement ways of rewarding individual and collective environmental performance is remunerated and non-remunerated ways;
  4. stimulate continuous education in environmental management;
  5. treat environmental aspects as values of corporate culture; and
  6. promote interaction between teams to deal with environmental problems and strive for continuous improvement of environmental management activities.

From a study of three companies, Kitazawa and Sarkis reveal a continuous reduction of pollution is significantly related to the empowerment and participation of employees who are trained in activities of environmental management and incentive programs, such as profit-sharing, that will increase employee participation in companies.

Moreover, team-based approaches, skill improvements, open communications, and management supports for continuous improvement in operating activities for pollution reduction are also found important.

Based on research involving employees from two different companies, Perron, Cote, and Duffy (2006) emphasize on measuring employee performance after being trained on environmental issues to check employee performance improvement on environment management.

Other researchers have also asserted the importance of environmental training and communication, organizational learning, and the performance of environmental management programs.

Dutta explains GHRM is directly responsible for creating a green workforce that understands, appreciates, and practices green policies.

An organization can maintain its green objectives throughout the HRM process of recruiting, hiring, and training, compensating, developing, and advancing the firm’s human capital.

The implementation of rigorous recruitment and selection of employees, performance-based appraisal system, training programs aimed at green management initiatives have basic importance to fostering environmental innovations.

Gaining a reputation as a green employer is an effective way to attract new talent. Phillips finds 8% of UK firms reward green behaviors with various types of awards and/or financial incentives.

Green responsibilities can be used by environmentally responsible employers to attract talent that fits and contributes to achieving the organization’s environmental goals.

Baron and Gomez-Mejia find the effectiveness of executive pay practices related to greater pollution prevention success in US firms operating in high- polluting industries.

Govindarajulu and Daily find recognition programs are another popular component of corporate environmental initiatives.

Strategic Aspect of Green HRM

HR plays a vital role in making the environmental responsibility of the organization as a part of the corporate mission statement.

The responsibility of the HR managers is to create awareness about the Green HRM, the Green movement, and the utilization of natural resources, helping the corporate to maintain the proper environment and retain natural resources for future generations among young and working people.

A green job is employment that directly works with strategies, information, materials, and technologies that contribute to minimizing environmental impact and requires specialized knowledge, skills, training, or experience in these areas.

According to Zoogah, D. (2010), five major platforms where sustainability principles can be applied in the transforming an organization to the wholly sustainable enterprise is as follows;

  1. “The Green products/services Portfolio” including waste and pollution management, resource replacement, sustainable design, and adaptive reuse.
  2. “The Green Workforce” including Human Resource strategies, culture, recruiting and retention, training, career path development, and diversity.
  3. “The Green Workplace,” including global locations, physical plants, ergonomics, virtual workplaces, green buildings, environmental discharge, waste and energy, use, and source.
  4. “The Green Function/Process Model,” including sustainability applied to traditional functions, enterprise-wide green process modeling to incorporate green practices and sustainable-management.
  5. “Green Management and Governance Principles,” including board and management accountability, sustainability test, compliance, incentives, ethics, reporting, and assurance.

Green HR polices emphasis on group and individual capabilities to convey green behavior. The goal or objective of such policies is to create a corporate environmental culture.

The focus of Green HRM concentrates on employee’s environmental behavior in the working place, which in turn, employees can practice such kind of behavior in their private life.

Green HR Policies

There is no doubt that organizations are the main cause of environmental problems. They should, therefore, play a large role in addressing environmental management issues. Bebbington (2001) has identified a wide range of GHRM practices.

Green HR Policies are;

  • Sourcing and acquisition of human resources.
  • Green recruitment, and selection.
  • Orientation.
  • Learning and development.
  • Green performance management.
  • Green compensation and reward management.

Sourcing and acquisition of human resources

As higher-level executives have more responsibility for green initiatives, green targets should be included in the managerial job description. As the requirement of employees, environmental consciousness can be included in the competency model of the organization.

Green recruitment and selection

Company websites can be used to invite applicants to apply for vacant positions. Resumes can be submitted online to reduce wastage of printed materials.

Companies can also use web portals for onboarding documentation like offer letter, credentials, and testimonials regarding qualifications and experiences and acceptance letter of selected applicants.

Environment-friendly firms receive better qualified and motivated job applicants. Some applicants are preferred to sacrifice salary potential to work for environmentally responsible organizations.

Some Job descriptions of an announced position and other information about the company can post on its website, which helps in the orientation of the new employees.

Again several environmental aspects can be mentioned in the job description. Green issues should be specified in the job description.

Such type of job description includes environmental reporting roles, health and safety tasks, harmful elements/probable radiations for staff, and then match worker’s attributes according to the environmental competencies.

An organization can set “Green awareness” as a preferential criterion to select employees. Firms recruit employees who are green aware.


The employee induction program should be planned in such a. way-as to enable the induction of new employees into a culture of green consciousness.

Employers should highlight the concern for green issues of employees like their health, safety, and green working conditions in the orientation program.

Learning and development

Learning, training, and development policies can include programs, workshops, and sessions to facilitate employees for improving and acquiring knowledge in environment management, green skills, and attitudes.

For future talented green managers, job rotation in the green assignment should become an important part of their career development plan.

Training contents should be settled to increase employee competencies and knowledge in green management.

Extensive use of online and web-based training modules and interactive media can be used as a training tool for environmental management training.

Environment-related aspects of safety, energy efficiency, waste management, and recycling can become the central points of green training.

Training managers should depend more on the online course material and case studies rather than on printed handouts, thus further reducing the use of paper.

Green performance management

The goal of the Performance management (PM) system in green management is to measure ecological performance standards through different departments of the organization and achieve useful information on the green performance of managers. Green performance indicators should be included in the PM system.

Green PM system can be successfully initiated through developing performance indicators for each risk area in environmental awareness and instruction.

It is important to communicate green schemes to all levels of staff. Managers/ employees can set green targets and responsibilities.

Green compensation and reward management

The compensation package should be adapted to reward green skills acquisition and achievement by employees.

Monetary, nonmonetary, and recognition based environmental reward systems and monthly managerial bonuses can be provided based on performance outcomes in environmental balance.

Carbon emission standard and regeneration sources of energy are the key consideration for executive payment as an appreciation of green efforts. Employees meeting green goals can be rewarded.

Green HRM Practices

Researchers (Cohen and Taylor, 2010; Ehner, 2009; Behrend, 2009; Philips, 2007) suggest a few Green HRM practices, which are mentioned below:

  1. Encouraging employees, through training and compensation, is to find ways to reduce the use of environmentally damaging chemicals in their products.
  2. Assisting employees in identifying ways to recycle products that can be used for playgrounds for children who don’t have access to healthy places to play.
  3. Designing a company’s HRM system is to reflect equity, development, and well­being, thus contributing to the long-term health and sustainability of both internal (employees) and external communities.
  4. Emphasizing long-term employment security is to avoid disruption for employees, their families, and their communities.
  5. Use of job portals of companies for recruitment and custom of telephone, internet, and video interviews, which can lessen the travel requirements of the candidate and affecting the reduction in paperwork.
  6. Green rewards to employees can be provided by companies in the arrangement of the nature-friendly workplace and lifestyle benefits through providing carbon credit equalizers, free bicycles, and pollution-free vehicles for transportation to the workplace to engage employees in green agenda.
  7. Talented, skilled, and experienced employees are environmentally conscious now, and they always look for self-actualization to be committed to their work. Green HR can create this commitment by following green values and practices.
  8. Green actions can occur with minimum use of paper and printed materials in recruitment, training and development, and performance appraisal.
  9. A company can create a green business environment by reducing the use of printed materials, increased ‘recycling, using eco-friendly grocery and lunch bags, and prohibiting the use of bottled water, plastic in the workplace.
  10. Luminous light bulbs and other energy-saving green devices can be used in the workplace.
  11. Companies can inspire their employees to change their travel and transportation ways through reducing official car trips, using public transport for business travel, carpooling, providing interest-free loans to purchase hybrid cars, and cycling or walking to work.
  12. Conduct business meetings and conferences through the internet, telephone, and video conferencing wherever possible to reduce business travel.
  13. Provide flexible work opportunities to employees in telework or work from home by using emails and company portals through intranet and internet.
  14. Wellness programs for employees, their family members, and general people can be arranged to focus on physical fitness, proper nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle. As an important green objective, environmental management can be included in the mission statement of the company as a part of their social responsibility. Organizations can arrange cleanliness and waste management initiative in the workplaces and surrounding society to cause awareness about green issues.
  15. Encourage the employee to turn off lights, computers, and printers after work hours and on weekends for further energy reductions.
  16. Inspire employees to place computers and printers in energy-saving settings when they will be away for a while.
  17. Turn off office lights while attending meetings and at night and over the weekend. Turn lights off in restrooms, conference rooms, libraries, and so forth when the room is not in use.
  18. Work with IT to switch to laptops over desktop computers because Laptops consume up to 90% less power.
  19. Arrange an air conditioning system with discretion.
  20. Purchase large or refillable containers of creamer, sugar, salt, pepper, and butter instead of individual containers.
  21. XII. Arrange green-themed games to promote environmentally friendly behavior and staff togetherness.
  22. Provide green promotion, which includes loan discounts on fuel-efficient cars and energy-saving home improvements, discounts at local green merchants.


It is evident from the discussion so far made that GHRM promises potential benefits for both organizations and those employed by them.

For the organization, there is some evidence that better environmental performance is also associated with improved financial performance outcomes; the so-called ‘Green pays’ argument.

The GHRM practices identified in this section may have a role to play in improving not only the environmental performance but also the financial performance of the organization.

Equally, the GHRM practices analyses here are likely to improve employee wellbeing in the workplace, not least through improving the working environment and satisfying the needs of an increasingly environmentally aware workforce.

In sum, we believe that GHRM has the potential to contribute positively to both employee wellbeing and improved organizational performance.

Green HR helps in achieving greater efficiency and lower costs within a process, reducing and eliminating ecological wastage and refurbishing HR products, tools, and procedures.

Being environmentally conscious, organizations are starting to integrate green attempts into their regular work environment with society.

Green HR attempts to create better employee involvement in a working environment, which helps the organization to work in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

The employers and specialists can establish the usefulness of linking employee involvement and participation in environmental management programs to improved organizational environmental performance, like with a specific focus on encouraging green practices and help green management change and develop.

Unions and employees can help employers to adopt Green HRM policies and practices that help safeguard and enhance worker health and wellbeing.

As organizations are the main cause of environmental problems, they should, therefore, play a large role in addressing environmental management issues.

So organizational managers should launch eco-initiates to address environmental management.

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