Sustainability in HR: benefits, tips, and use cases
The definition of balance and people sustainability differs for everyone, but there are a few universal truths. For example, we all need a good work–life balance to be healthy and happy.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that the absence of work–life balance is one of the top sources of stress for American adults, with 60% citing it as a significant stressor.
Sustainability in HR plays a vital role in work-life balance, as it’s aimed at building a solid corporate culture. It is critical for every company because it affects how engaged employees are and how long they stay with your organization.
Sustainability in HR helps you ensure that your company culture and community practices are constantly evolving to remain inclusive and motivate employees. So let’s see if HR is turning into people sustainability. We’ll also share tips on how HR can help promote sustainability in the organization.
The role of HR in people sustainability
Optimizing environmental development among employees is gaining increased attention in the modern business world. It centers on implementing a comprehensive approach to business operations and managing organizational resources and goals sustainably to benefit all individuals, including customers, employees, and the environment. In essence, people sustainability is about promoting the health, well-being, and engagement of all individuals, both within and outside the organization, to drive sustainable development, profitability, and growth.
What is people sustainability?
People sustainability in business means treating people responsibly, caring for their mental well-being, and valuing their contributions and development, both within and outside of an organization, in order to preserve and protect the environment for future generations.
People sustainability refers to the concept of managing an organization’s human capital in a way that ensures its long-term viability and success. It involves focusing on employee engagement, retention, and development and ensuring that the organization’s workforce is diverse, inclusive, and adaptable to change.
People sustainability involves prioritizing business operations’ social, economic, and environmental impacts and decisions to promote long-term sustainability, profitability, and growth. It aims to positively impact society and the environment while promoting business success and financial prosperity. People sustainability can include employee well-being programs, community outreach and engagement, and environmentally responsible practices.
Why is HR turning into people sustainability?
While the role of HR has traditionally been focused on areas such as talent acquisition, performance management, and compliance, there has been a shift in recent years towards a more holistic approach to people management, including work-life balance and a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As a result, some HR professionals and thought leaders have suggested that the function is evolving into a more comprehensive people sustainability role. This shift reflects a broader recognition that employees are a critical asset for organizations and that sustainably managing them is essential for long-term success.
Here are a few examples of sustainability in HR:
- Employee wellness programs. A key aspect of people sustainability is promoting employees’ health and well-being. Companies can implement programs encouraging employees to adopt healthy lifestyles by offering fitness classes, health support, and access to healthy food options.
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives. Another aspect of sustainability in HR is ensuring that all employees are treated equitably. HR can develop diversity and inclusion initiatives that promote a culture of respect, tolerance, and acceptance in the workplace.
- Sustainable talent management. Sustainability in HR involves ensuring that employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed, both now and in the future. HR can develop talent management strategies that promote ongoing learning and development and provide opportunities for employees to advance within the organization.
- Employee upskilling programs. By 2030, 85 million jobs worldwide will be unfilled due to a lack of skills. Sustainability practices in HR can help people prioritize and develop their personal and professional needs through upskilling and retraining. They can ensure that organizations and their employees are engaged and equipped with the necessary tools to grow as the business evolves.
- Ethical talent sourcing. Companies can implement ethical sourcing policies when recruiting talent to ensure that they aren’t contributing to the exploitation of vulnerable individuals or communities. This involves ensuring that candidates are treated fairly and respectfully throughout the hiring process and that their backgrounds and qualifications are thoroughly vetted.
Overall, sustainability in HR involves promoting employees’ well-being and development while ensuring that the company’s practices and policies are socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.
Use cases where sustainability in HR worked perfectly
Sustainability in HR involves embedding green culture into an organization’s processes and practices and promoting a sustainable mindset among employees at all levels.
Green recruiting is about optimizing recruiting and making it more thoughtful using online recruitment tools and virtual interviewing methods to reduce travel and paper use. See what strategy HanseWerk (one of northern Germany’s largest regional suppliers of heat and decentralized energy solutions) used to achieve a better recruiting and talent development strategy through macroeconomic insights. HRForecast helped the company gain insights into the labor market in the energy industry and among similar companies, define the strong and weak points of the company’s job postings, and develop recruiting best practices.
Sustainable talent management incorporates sustainability goals into talent management practices such as training and development, performance reviews, and succession planning. For example, Telekom AG and A1 Telecom (German and Austrian telecommunication companies) have built personalized AI-driven employee development journeys. Using AI algorithms and intelligent applications of HR tools, the companies have revealed hidden employee potential through automated competency evaluations and identify suitable candidates for future skill profiles. As a result, they have implemented tailor-made learning to fill skill gaps and meet future requirements.
Diversity and inclusion development helps promote sustainability and social responsibility within the organization. Learn how BASF (a European multinational chemical company) used the smartPlan tool to simulate realistic diversity scenarios for developing the company’s diversity share. The company got levers to increase the diversity share faster and provided global sociocultural benchmarks for diversity.
Work–life balance isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity. Sustainability in HR results in the promotion of flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, and other practices that reduce the environmental impact of commuting. Find out how CMS (a German law firm) received two scenarios for transforming the workforce and gained transparency to optimize internal career paths and develop new ones.
Employee engagement helps improve workforce participation in environmental initiatives and provides training to increase sustainability awareness. For example, Kramp, a company that produces spare parts for agricultural machinery, tractors, forestry, and horticultural applications, worked with HRForecast to adapt strategic workforce planning in order to change the conditions of the digital age and align them with the company’s needs. As a result, the company gained insights to determine functions and requirement profiles at the middle management level and to create tailor-made instruments for talent management.
HR can be more sustainable
Sustainability in HR is about creating and maintaining a healthy work environment for employees while ensuring long-term viability and success. By prioritizing these practices and initiatives, HR can help create a sustainable workplace that benefits both employees and the organization. To ensure that all your plans are based on data, we suggest using professional tools such as smartPlan, which helps you design your future workforce and accurately forecast headcount. Let us know if you want more information about how smartPlan can make your company more sustainable.