10 things HR can do to help their companies go ‘green’

Everywhere you turn, something or someone is being promoted as “environmentally friendly.” U.S. employers are no different; they’re jumping into all kinds of green practices in a bid to improve their public images, boost employee morale/loyalty and potentially cut costs.

Half of HR professionals now say their organizations have formal or informal policies on environmental responsibility, says a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey (see box).

Best bet: Pitch your initiatives to higher-ups in small, realistic bites that focus on saving money and boosting staff loyalty. Avoid large action plans that could get shot down as expensive or too cumbersome.

Here are the top 10 green practices, in order, being used in U.S. organizations today, according to SHRM:

1. Encourage employees to be more environmentally friendly (e.g., making double-sided photocopies, lowering blinds in summer to conserve energy, turning off idle computers, etc.).

2. Offer a recycling program for office products (e.g., paper, plastic, cans and glass).

3. Donate used office furniture and equipment to charities or employees. One option: Set up a “re-use area” where employees can take unneeded supplies/materials rather than throw them out. Then, encourage co-workers to “shop” there.

4. Use energy-efficient lighting equipment (occupancy sensors, Energy Star equipment) and water-conserving plumbing fixtures (faucet aerators, low-flow toilets).

5. Install automatic shut-off sensors
on equipment.

6. Buy or lease refurbished goods,
such as toner cartridges, copiers, retread tires, etc.

7. Promote walking, biking and the use of public transit.

8. Partner with suppliers and companies that are environmentally friendly.

9. Minimize your organization’s pollution and waste output.

10. Participate in (or sponsor) community events to improve the environment, such as plant-a-tree days and fundraisers.

Note: Don’t expect that your go-for-the-green efforts will automatically spark recruiting and retention miracles. In the SHRM survey, only 3% of HR pros said environmental programs sparked improved recruitment and retention.

Have a company policy on environmental responsibility?

Yes, a formal one          22%
Yes, an informal one     28%
No, but planning on it      7%
No, and no plans to       43%

Source: SHRM Green Workplace survey