Half of Workplaces Claim to be "Green"

January 16, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Fifty percent of HR professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported their organization had a formal (written) or informal environmental responsibility policy.

According to a report on the survey results, 7% of HR professionals indicated that although their organization did not have a policy, they plan to establish one in the next 12 months. Forty-three percent reported that their organization had no policy and does not plan to have one in the next 12 months.

The top “green workplace” practice cited by HR professionals surveyed was encouraging employees to be more environmentally friendly through activities such as making double-sided photocopies, powering down computers after a few minutes of inactivity, using energy-efficient bulbs for desk lamps, and ensuring blinds are lowered in the summer to conserve energy.

Offering recycling programs for office products and donating or discounting used furniture and supplies were the next most cited practices by HR professionals. Surveyed employees chose donating or discounting used furniture and supplies as the most important practice for organizations to carry out.

Almost seven out of ten HR professionals and about one third of employees ranked contribution to society as the top motivator for environmentally responsible programs. HR professionals cited perceived environmental considerations and economic considerations as the top second and third drivers, while employees chose public relations strategy and health and safety considerations.

Barriers to implementing a “green workplace” policy included cost of implementing environmentally responsible programs (85% of HR professionals and 78% of employees), cost of maintaining programs, and lack of support from management.

Forty-four percent of HR professionals indicated that improved employee morale was the top positive outcome of their organizations’ environmentally responsible program – seemingly confirmed by the fact that 61% of employees whose organization participated in environmentally friendly practices reported they are “very likely” or “likely” to stay with their current organization because of these practices. However, employees chose strong public image (67%) as the top positive outcome of environmentally responsible programs.

Forty-three percent of HR professionals said HR departments were directly involved in their organizations’ environmentally responsible program, but most said they perceived the program was the responsibility of the senior management team of their firm.

The survey results were based on responses by 429 HR professional and employee members of SHRM and a sample of 504 employees randomly selected by an outside survey research organization’s Web-enabled employee panel.

A report of the survey results can be accessed by SHRM members at http://www.shrm.org/surveys .