Future of work, Human Resources

5 articles to read about how HR can tackle climate change

Teodora Penkova

It’s nearly the end of 2021 and while the world slowly emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, another crisis is on the rise – climate change. 

As COP26 is underway, many world leaders and climate activists are raising their voices and committing to actions on climate change, and we look at them with hope. 

The climate crisis brings another challenge for businesses and their HR teams who now need to think about sustainability strategies and how they actually need to be created. 

What is the role of HR in tackling climate change? We’ve found articles that give a good overview and offer advice on how to fight back against global warming. 

1. ‘Half of employers are guilt of greenwashing, report staff’
Monica Sharma, for HR Review 

According to a new report by Advanced, 43% of senior employees in the UK believe that their company is guilty of greenwashing. This research also found that many employees are concerned that their bosses are prioritising increasing profit (47%) over hitting environmental targets (37%).

The article focuses on the young people specifically stating that they wish to align themselves with companies that are environmentally friendly and working towards positive change, claiming this should be a key priority for businesses looking to attract and retain this group.

Environmental issues matter to everyone, but the young have a vested interest and care about working for an organisation that wants to make a positive impact on the planet.

Gordon Wilson

CEO at Advanced

2. ‘Climate Change the role of HR to reduce your business environmental impact.’

People First HR

There’s no quick fix to the climate change crisis but there are actions that businesses and HR teams can take, and People First HR give some good ideas.

Some of them that we really like are creating an environmentally aware working culture, and keeping employees updated and informed about Climate and Environmental changes.

3. ‘HR’s key role in creating net-zero organisations’
Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at CIPD

With the pandemic recovery underway there’s a great opportunity for companies to focus on sustainability and its integration into their business strategy. 

Writing earlier this year, CIPD’s Head of Public Policy shared the areas that HR professionals should focus on to play their part in tackling the climate crisis – from recruitment, to the strategic level. As in our day-to-day lives, he references the “many small changes” that can make a big difference. 

CIPD also provides a Guide to Sustainability with practical suggestions on how professionals can play a more active role in achieving this aim. 

4. ‘Why HR teams are core to an environmentally sustainable business approach’
David Wilkinson, for Oxford Review 

David Wilkinson gives a helpful summary of research published in the journal Human Resource Management by researchers from Australia and China Human Resources – about who teams play a key role in the way that environmental policies are carried out, helping their organisation develop an environmentally sustainable business approach. 

The research also found that there are three key HR activities that make a significant difference:

  • Organisations should provide their employees with an adequate green training 
  • Organisations should properly appraise employee green behaviour, and link this behaviour to promotional opportunities
  • New applicants for work at a company should be screened for positive green beliefs as a norm

    5. HR shut out of climate change projects‘
    Jo Faragher, for Personnel Today 

    In this article, Jo Faragher summarises research from Willis Towers Watson that has uncovered the reality that many organisations aren’t involving HR in their climate efforts – and that an almost equally large proportion have no plans to.

    As strong believers in the strategic role of HR, this is a concern – especially considering their unique position to influence (and measure) employee sentiment. As quoted in the article:

From embedding climate strategies into EVP, to designing measurable objectives and links to performance-based pay, HR is an area that can make or break the success of a company’s climate strategy.

Amanda Scott

GB head of talent and rewards at Willis Towers Watson

We’re a big believer in using your people power – and that includes in the fight against the climate crisis. The first step is listening to your employees, and we have a faster, simpler, more affordable way of doing that. Learn more:

Faster, simpler surveys – free for 21 days

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