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How green is your people development agenda?

Last month I discussed the level of importance your organisation places on informal learning.  This month I would like to explore the subject of sustainability and the level of commitment to a green agenda.

With the hot debate about the Carbon Tax, it does raise a lot questions around corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability.  Whilst many organisations over the past 5 years have endeavoured to focus on sustainability, many have failed to translate this into everyday reality in all facets of their business.  CSR is no longer an option – employees expect it and shareholders demand it.

How would you describe your organisation?  PwC have written a series of interesting articles titled ‘Managing tomorrow’s people’.  Reflecting on the content in the table below, which colour describes the world in which your organisation operates?


Source: © 2009 PricewaterhouseCoopers Article: ‘Managing tomorrow’s people – How the downturn will change the future of work’ (http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/pdf/mtp-how-the-downturn.pdf)

Integration of sustainability and ‘green’ strategies should now be viewed as a business critical mission if you work for a socially responsible organisation.  Going green requires mind and behaviour shifts at all levels of the organisation – yes, it is everyone’s responsibility not just your CEO and Board.

Are you a far cry from green?  How is your organisation championing a greener strategy in your processes/procedures, platforms and people agenda?  Have you explored recycling ideas beyond paper, photocopier toner cartridges, energy-saving lighting/power and eWaste?

This becomes an even more very interesting conversation when you consider how it can be applied to your people development agenda.  “How?” you may well ask.  Or, “where do I start?”

Let me offer at least 5 ideas to get you started on your mission to reduce, reuse or recycle in relation to your people development agenda.  Always remember that benefit realisation should be defined in both short and long term wins and become part of the way you do business.  All of these savings are tangible, so document and report on them so that you can demonstrate to senior management that green approaches are good for the (triple) bottom line.

1. Right Design – Digestible chunks of learning, blending the delivery mode of learning (education, experience or exposure) so that it is more relevant, flexible and available just in time.
2. Leverage Technology – Make it a policy to invest in technology such as video-conferencing, Webex and other available solutions that can reduce the amount of employee time off the job and travel.  Establish green meetings rules.  Meetings no longer need to be held in person.  If you have to travel consider different modes eg the train or bus where feasible instead of a rental car.  If you have to rent a car consider renting hybrids and other high-mileage vehicles.
3. Greener Training Facilities Install energy-saving light bulbs and use motion detectors to ensure that lights don’t get left on in unused rooms.  Put your training room back near windows for natural light.  Multi use rooms so there is no ‘downtime’ or underutilisation in usage.
4. Partner with Green Providers – Where possible ‘think global and act local’.  Choose locally produced products, which helps the environment as materials will not only reduce energy but also save on transport costs.
5. Go Paperless where possible!  Make it a habit to think before you print: could this be read or stored online instead?  How many copies do you really need?  Avoid misprints and mass print out sessions for stockpiling, only to be pulped at a later date when things change.  Use the double-sided function on the printer and photocopier – it saves time, paper and money.  We all know the saying “killing a rainforest”, so please think before you print.

Together these ingredients can contribute to engendering a fresh approach to your people development agenda and will be a better fit for your multi-generational workforce.  We need to be thinking in terms of agility and innovation when designing sustainable learning solutions.  After all if we just focus solely on the process of business re-engineering we can improve business flexibility and efficiencies, but these advantages will be short lived as competitors replicate our approach.  Changing how our people connect and interact, whilst more difficult to do, offers a longer term benefit gain.  When things become culturally ingrained ie part of your organisational DNA, it is more difficult to replicate and therefore a potential sustainable competitive advantage.

So what is your organisation going to do differently, in what you sustain and build on what you have, so you survive to compete in tomorrow’s marketplace?

More food for thought:

Green IT: A Cost-cutting Strategy Beyond Switching Off the Screensaver

Companies have barely scratched the surface when it comes to making information technology (IT) “greener”. Research shows only one in six Australian organisations has gone beyond the basics, yet the trailblazers claim substantial savings and reputational benefits await those who make more than cursory moves, such as switching off screensavers. Most organisations have no idea how much powering up IT costs in the first place, and there’s a tendency to let the issue rest with the IT department. Top-down management, integrated effort and, importantly, measurement can save the planet and the bottom line, experts say.

What do you think?

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Arndria Seymour

Arndria Seymour

Arndria Seymour is a commercially oriented senior learning/organisational development professional. She has a proven track record in crafting and executing people development related strategies aligned to achieving business goals across the finance sector domestically and internationally over the past 30 years. Arndria is the founder of Amicii, which is a premium service orientated organisation which supports the personal growth and transformation of people.

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