Helen Humphries, HR consultant, HH Consulting

In a world in which ‘going green’ is increasingly discussed and where sustainability issues concern many people, how does HR contribute to changing the workplace ‘climate’?†

Large organisations have to show good business sense in the decisions they make about their employee strategies to fulfil their corporate social responsibility, or achieve objectives with a good heart. The January 2007 Ceridian survey Green benefits: a new tool in the war for talent shows the vast majority of employees believe their employer should be environmentally responsible.

Councils have a governance role in their cities to lead the way on issues including climate change. Multi-modal travel to work is now common practice in Nottingham City Council. Partnership working with P&MM and liaison with local bus firms has delivered a new tax-free benefit, called greentravel2work, encouraging bus travel to work.

Nottingham City Council has shared ideas with large employers in the City, encouraging others to consider green travel. In Nottingham, this has already resulted in ten local employers putting greentravel2work schemes in place.

A Nottingham green travel week is planned to take place shortly to encourage more local employers to consider these options. Thousands of commuters will potentially save on the cost of travelling to work and contribute positively to the environment through this initiative in the near future.

The council’s cycle-to-work scheme, meanwhile, offers staff a chance to get a bike tax free and some employees park and ride, and pedal into work after parking on the outskirts of the city.

The portfolio of discounts within our voluntary benefits plan also includes green and ethical products. Staff are encouraged to consider green energy and can make savings by transferring their energy provider. A new initiative to help staff with their work-life balance offers delivery of healthy lunch options, with naturally-sourced and organic ingredients ordered and paid for online, all in recyclable packaging.

We hope to continue to encourage staff to think green while influencing the wider community towards this goal.

n Helen Humphries, HR consultant at HH Consulting and former HR consultant at Nottingham City Council