Skip main navigation

Green HR Practices For SMEs

It is becoming clear that SMEs have some advantages as they are more agile and many can see the competitive advantage and selling point to consumers in relation to being ethical and sustainable.
large and small-to-medium enterprises
© RMIT University 2017
Increasingly organisations are recognising the importance of going green to reach and maintain business development as well as success. This is why the integration of environmental management into human resources (that constitutes green HR) has become a crucial element for any sustainable business. Nonetheless, becoming a sustainable business can be a long and rather challenging process. Due to its complexity, organisations must be expected to face challenges and impediments, particularly with implementation of green HR practices across the entire organisation.

Barriers to Green HR Practices For SMEs

In this regard, barriers seem to vary according to the size of an organisation. Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been found to differ from large enterprises in terms of impediments to implementation of green HR. However, regardless of an organisation’s size, some barriers are common to any business. The most recurring can be traced to a lack of knowledge or understanding of green policies and principles. This shortcoming could be the result of scarce and ineffective communication amongst employees. It could also be the outcome of inadequate environmental training and awareness. Another barrier to green HR practices could be limited financial and human resources. Such limitations would directly impact the capacity to adopt sustainability targeted practices and initiatives.

SMEs More Agile to Respond to Sustainability Requirements

It is becoming clear that SMEs have some advantages as they are more agile and many can see the competitive advantage and selling point to consumers in relation to being ethical and sustainable.

However, O’Donohue and Torugsa (2016) suggest that small businesses may face greater challenges than large organisations since they may not have sufficient resources and may have limited knowledge about environmental issues. Conversely, SMEs do have greater flexibility since they often have close proximity to staff and can adapt by incorporating environmental and economic goals. This may be expressed through branding themselves as having Fair Trade or green practices and using this as a distinctive marketing tool. There are several examples of large organisations implementing sustainable outcomes but these are more often specialised products rather than the core or whole of business activities.

Activity
Search the internet and find examples of sustainable practices for large and small fashion brands. What are some of the features for a large and small fashion brand – ‘Does size really matter?’
© RMIT University 2017
This article is from the free online

Business Futures: Sustainable Business Through Green HR

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education