Culture & Engagement

5 ways HR can support environmental sustainability

HR Professional

Environmental sustainability will only be achieved if we all do our part. And that includes those of us who work in the HR industry!


I’ve been speaking to HR leaders around the world, to find out what they are doing to support environmental sustainability, from their position in HR. Here’s what I learned.

1. Go digital to cut out paper waste


Environmental sustainability is often synonymous with going paperless. And while this certainly isn’t a complete solution to becoming environmentally sustainable, it’s a great start. But how can HR get on-board?


One thing we do at PwC, is automating our performance review process” says Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global People & Org Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Mobile apps are helping to capture real-time feedback, and by automating the process and going mobile, we’ve eliminated the need for 200,000+ employees globally to print out their performance reviews like they had previously.


Beyond performance reviews, HR can also go paperless with policies, payslips, and other company documents. And as well as benefits to environmental sustainability, recent PwC research of 12,000 people showed that half of employees prefer certain HR tasks to be automated.

2. Invest in reusables to eliminate single-use plastics


At People®, we are investing in permanent solutions to single-use plastics. For example, we recently switched from stocking our fridge with bottled water, to providing each employee with Larq bottles – self-cleaning bottles that purify your drinking water.


Our new, self-cleaning water bottles are helping us cut down on single-use plastics.


Other companies are taking similar steps to reduce consumption of single-use plastics. For example, Mollie Moric, Career Advisor and Hiring Manager at Resume Genius, gives all new employees a welcome package. This includes:


 * Company-branded Tupperware

 * Cutlery

 * A metal straw


The food vendors surrounding our office have come to recognise our employees by their company branded reusable containers and utensils” she tells me. “This simple initiative has created a company culture of responsibility where it’s no longer socially acceptable to create unnecessary waste in the office.

3. Initiate employee volunteer opportunities to create a positive difference


Mollie also tells me that her team engages in green volunteer opportunities, as part of their Green HRM initiative.


It’s an easy and fun way for our employees to engage in volunteer opportunities that they otherwise likely wouldn’t have known about” she says. “Although the majority of initiatives take place on evenings and weekends, we occasionally participate in a mid-week initiative which allows employees to spend a paid day picking up trash at the beach instead of in the office.


Services such as Neighbourly can help you connect your business with relevant employee volunteering opportunities in your local area.

4. Get creative with end of week waste


Many companies are happy to provide employees with free food, such as fruit, or other snacks. But this can sometimes cause an unnecessary waste problem.


We don’t waste food” says HR Specialist Ewa Zakrzewska, from Zety. “We order fruits and snacks for the office weekly. If by the end of the week there are any left-overs, we make juices or bake cakes. Nothing goes to waste! And it’s a great reason to gather and have a meal.


We already know that giving employees the opportunity to eat together can create a special sort of togetherness. Why not read about why we hired a chef to cook for our employees?

5. And if you must waste it, compost it!


Mikaila Turman is the Director of People at GoodHire. Mikaila has 13+ years of experience in HR, and two years ago, implemented composting – along with a range of other recycling options – to support environmental sustainability.


Everyone uses it because it’s easy” says Mikaila. “The bins provide clear pictures and instructions about what goes where, and they just know it’s part of our culture now. We’ve reduced non-recyclable trash significantly.


Reducing waste means less resources have to go into producing more materials, which is overall much better for the environment. What do you do to support environmental sustainability at your place of work?