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Green HR and L&D – a growing trend in business, on the example of Gorenje

two hands above a soil covered with green leaves holding soil with a small gren plant

More and more people are talking about caring for our planet, and this means we are making choices that have ecological benefits. This trend also applies to activities in HR and L&D. Green HRM (GHRM), meaning including promotion of the so-called green skills in HR strategy, is becoming more and more popular. The concept aims to combine effective employee management with sustainable management. 

Green HRM in Company Structures – what does it mean in practice?

Today, caring for nature is not an option but a necessity. It is no different in the case of organizations. Green HRM is a set of principles, systems, and practices used to encourage employees to adopt green behavior in the workplace. To what end? To develop the company’s mission as a socially responsible company, focused on environmental protection, and therefore aware and effectively managing not only human resources but also natural resources. 

Green HRM – why does it count in the job market of today?

Effective application of Green HRM begins before an employee joins the organization. At the job description stage of recruitment planning, it is a good idea to consider future tasks involving sustainability. This will reinforce the image of a company conscious of caring for the planet. 

How does L&D fit into GHRM?

At the recruitment and onboarding stage, green HRM is extremely important and can significantly influence the green mission of the company. Recruitment files can be stored electronically. Saving paper will not only affect nature but also the company budget. The employee retraining process itself can also become more environmentally friendly. L&D is becoming more and more focused around learning green skills and raising awareness of sustainability in the workplace. 

Green goals in L&D processes

The idea is primarily to make employees aware of the significance of the problem. For this purpose, every now and then it is worth delivering a newsletter with the latest green solutions that you can implement at work or schedule a meeting with a green influencer. It is essential to educate as many employees as possible about energy conservation and other eco-friendly behaviors at work. Materials should not be delivered in paper, but in an eco-friendly and cost-effective form, that is, electronically. Digitalization definitely promotes an eco-friendly attitude. Sustainability can become one of the elements of employee development.

It is beneficial to show employees that going green is necessary not only today, but also in the future. Not only at work, also in your everyday life. 

Green HRM and Performance Appraisal

One way to develop green HRM within a company is to include it in your… employee assessment. It is good to include objectives related to a sustainable mission in the company’s performance management strategy. Employees can be motivated to demonstrate eco-friendly practices by including sustainability-related tasks as one of the metrics used for evaluation. 

It only takes a few simple steps to reinforce eco-friendly habits with your employees. This may include promoting bicycle commuting or abandoning disposable dishes in favor of reusable containers. Thanks to gratifications for pro-environmental behavior, employees will be more willing and effective in introducing new assumptions, which in turn will lead to an improvement in the company’s image and will build a real eco-friendly attitude. You can measure progress at the organizational level. Global measurement programs have emerged where you can enroll your company and check its achievements. You can also get ISO 14001 or Global Reporting Initiative certified. 

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Gorenje Group – exemplary dedication to sustainability

Gorenje Group is one of the leading European manufacturers of household appliances with a global presence spanning over 70 years. The company has production facilities throughout Europe as well as development and skills centers in Slovenia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Sweden. The group also operates in ecology-related services, catering, trade, engineering, and toolmaking. 

This organization emphasizes being environmentally conscious not only in the relationship between the company and the customer. It proves that promoting an eco-friendly attitude is possible in the early stages of establishing a relationship with a new employee. The candidate is required not only to have the appropriate skills for the position but also to be environmentally conscious. Selected interview questions address the candidate’s commitment to being environmentally responsible. 

Long tradition of Gorenje with regard to sustainability

The continuing pandemic and ongoing digitization of life is making it increasingly easy to go green, for example by reducing emissions as a result of the prevalence of remote working. Yet the corporate policy of Gorenje environmental awareness early on. This policy involved an eco-friendly approach from product design, through manufacturing, use and disposal. 

The organization boasts international ISO 14001 environmental management certification. In 2004, Gorenje became the first company in Slovenia to be entered into the EMAS register – Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. This means that the organization meets stringent environmental standards.

However, it should be noted that ecology is a part of many HRM activities of Gorenje, namely:

  • recruitment through careful selection of candidates taking into account their eco-friendly attitudes,
  • training implementing Lean Manufacturing which has allowed for a significant reduction in waste,
  • performance management, through the development of skills models for managers, to reinforce eco-friendly behavior among team members.

In each of these areas, the employee is in constant contact with the company’s environmental objectives. However, it is education that plays a major role. It is about implementing the belief that caring about the environment is not an obstacle to development and implementation of innovations.

The power of education in the context of green skills

Gorenje through various scholarship and internship programs is striving to effectively implement green attitudes not only among its employees but also among students. Yet a question arises: what activities, apart from spreading green knowledge are important?

Perhaps the low openness to general knowledge is why the need for green skills training should be communicated by corporations. PISA study reveals that young people aged 15 in Slovenia perform rather well at school, but university students do much worse.

The example of Slovenia shows that this also matters because the quality of higher education is not always satisfactory. Although the number of students in Slovenia is growing, it is facing various problems, such as a high drop-out rate and lack of close cooperation between universities and business.

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This brings to mind the idea that perhaps Gorenje, as a company with a well-established green attitude, should promote care for the environment not only among its customers, suppliers and employees but also the whole society. Reduction of the environmental impact of the company plays crucial role.

Why should specifically Gorenje be an example for future generations? The organization has a number of high-tech solutions in its development strategy, leading to a high degree of education, information and team-building of employees. The effects of these actions manifest themselves, in the campaigns organized, which annually strengthen the cultural awareness of many thousands of employees. According to official data, the group provides training to 65-93% of all employees each year. Interestingly, in 2015, as many as 30 hours were devoted to educating one company member.

The green approach is reflected in many areas of our lives. As it turns out, also HR and L&D operations, are full of processes that can be improved in ways that allow for greater care for the environment. Such changes do not necessarily involve a revolution in the company. All it takes is the implementation of a few small details to gradually make the green trend an everyday reality.

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