Work Force

Human Resources’ Role in Sustainability 

Evidence is mounting that current and prospective employees prefer to work at companies where they are not only safe and healthful, but part of a socially responsible organization. In a time when the viability of a career in manufacturing is under constant attack by shifting global economic forces and, often, unflattering media coverage, the attraction and added value of being part of a company that practices and promotes sustainability is increasing. So a company focus on sustainability is especially valuable for manufacturing facilities. 

If company and employee values are aligned – with the company operating ethically, providing a suitable work-life balance and clearly demonstrating a concern for health and safety – then staff morale and commitment will increase, reducing staff turnover and boosting productivity.

The human resources function in a sustainable industrial facility is to ensure secure, long-term assets in the form of a knowledgeable, skilled, productive, safe and healthy workforce. Alongside traditional human resources priorities such as succession planning, recognizing and rewarding talent, and leadership development, the HR group at a sustainable enterprise will anticipate future needs, identify skill gaps, and prepare to fill them. It provides for skill development, education, physical fitness, mental health and risk management both on and off the job.

Some HR professionals assert that training in social and environmental dilemmas builds skills that are relevant in many job situations – from leadership and team-working, to negotiating and problem-solving. HR should encourage participation in such activities as philanthropic initiatives, community engagement programs and environmental impact assessments.

Also consider the role of HR as change agent: developing the structures, systems, ways of working and personal values that will support the organization’s sustainable development objectives, and encouraging others in the company to act as enthusiastic agents of change.

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