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[Podcast] The Impacts of Green Human Resources on Environmental Goals

24/05/2024

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Keyword: Green Human Resource Management; Environmental behavior; Environmental performance; Sustainable environment; Green universities

In the context of global economic integration, the concept of "economics" is not only expected to accompany "development" but is increasingly correlated with the concepts of "sustainability" and "green". For that reason, Green Human Resource Management (GHRM) has become a key business strategy for organizations. In recognition of the importance of this topic, the student research team from the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) conducted a study to comprehensively examine factors affecting GHRM in the university with the purpose of proposing specific solutions for organizations and the Government.

Universities gradually focusing on environmental behavior to utilize resources sustainably 

Despite having relatively low pollution emissions compared to businesses, universities are raising environmental awareness and promoting sustainable behavior in resource use. Previous studies have indicated that activities in educational environments indirectly or directly affect the environment. The increasing environmental pressure and the cost of resource consumption have motivated universities to focus on pro-environmental behavior for sustainable use of resources. More universities are incorporating aspects of environmental management into their policies, educational programs, research projects, building design, technology and other campus activities. In addition, environmental initiatives in universities have placed more emphasis on technical aspects of environmental performance but less attention on behavioral aspects of environmental performance management. As a result, their progress toward resource retention remains slow and ineffective.

Some research papers on the ability to maintain a green environment at higher education institutions have emphasized changes by managers, or green initiatives proposed by students from the bottom up. Neverthelss, they neglected to consider middle-level participants – employees and academic staff and their role in sustainability on campus. The role of employees and academic staff have a significant influence on the process of developing campus sustainability because of their knowledge, skills, techniques and direct relationships with superiors (managers, leaders) and subordinates (students) of the organization. These subjects have the potential to support and to encourage pro-environmental behavior among individuals participating in learning to achieve long-term progress towards the environment. Therefore, this study was conducted to delve into the impact of green human resource management on environmental goals on university campuses.

This study aims to examine the mediating effects of Organizational Citizenship Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE), Green Human Resource Management (GHRM) and Environmental Performance on University campuses based on surveys, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the theoretical framework on the Ability - Motivation - Opportunity Theory (AMO), Social Identity Theory, and Social Exchange Theory.

Important factors having major impacts on the environment and environmental activities

Survey results collected from 277 employees and teaching staff at several universities in Ho Chi Minh City showed that Green Capacity Building Practices (NL), Green Motivation Enhancement Practices (DL), Green Employee Engagement Practices (TG), Organizational Citizenship Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE), Environmental Performance (HS) has come under focus. One-third of the survey participants agreed that these factors greatly impacted the environment and environmental activities.

The results also revealed that Green Motivation Enhancement Practices (DL) and Green Employee Engagement Practices (TG) were both correlated to the variable Organizational Citizen Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE). Besides, the variable Organizational Citizen Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE) positively correlated with Environmental Performance (HS). The variable Green Motivation Enhancement Practice (DL) has the strongest correlation with the Organizational Citizen Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE) variable. This result was completely sound as environmental awareness or initiatives, no matter how good it is, were likely to be just theoretical if there was no motivation source turning it into actual action. This suggests organizations provide rewards or recognition to encourage positive environmental behavior.

The variable Organizational Citizenship Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE) was positively correlated with the variable Environmental Performance (HS). This finding is consistent with previous studies, reporting a strong relationship between OCBE and Environmental Performance (Alt and Spitzeck, 2016; Paillé et al., 2014; Pinzone et al., 2016). Employees who voluntarily engaged in environmentally friendly behaviors listed as recycling and energy conservation would help achieve environmental improvement goals within an organization.

Finally, the variable Green Employee Engagement Practices (TG) positively correlated with variable the Organizational Citizenship Behavior towards the Environment (OCBE). This result was also consistent with those of previous studies in discovering the positive correlation between green participation practices and OCBE (Alt & Spitzeck, 2016; Pinzone et al., 2016). When employees had the opportunity to participate in the organization’s green activities, they would feel empowered to take initiatives to solve environmental problems, which, in turn, promoted their ability to behave environmentally friendly at the workplace voluntarily. Besides, the findings supporting previous studies, bears a disagreement that the variable Green Capacity Building Practices (NL) that did not correlate with Organizational Citizen Behavior towards The Environment (OCBE).

Besides, there was a significant correlation between HR activities including Green Capacity Building Practices (NL), Green Motivation Enhancement Practices (DL) on Environmental Performance through the OCBE mediator of employees on campuses. This finding supported the theoretical perspective of Ramus (2002), who stated that employees feeled better prepared for eco-initiatives when organizations shared environmental responsibilities with them and considered their as an environmental responsibility part of their performance evaluation. With OCBE as the mediator of the relationships, the results unveiled that Green Capacity Building Practices (NL) and Green Motivation Enhancement Practices (DL) both correlated with Environmental Performance (HS). In addition, the variable Green Employee Participation Practices (TG) could not influence Environmental Performance (HS).

Proposed GHRM solutions toward environmental goals

Based on the analysis results of factors affecting GHRM, the research team proposes the following solutions:

In terms of students: They should accept and comply with school regulations, voluntarily act for the environment, and be conscious of building and protecting the environment through practical actions not only at school but also in society and at work. In addition, students need to practice environmentally friendly habits and activities and absorb and continue to convey awareness to those around them. They should actively participate in activities, creative competitions, and projects on environmental protection inside and outside the school, research the current environmental situation, and make suggestions, solutions, and initiatives contributing to greening the university campus.

In terms of university lecturers and staff: They need to be aware of protection, and voluntarily implement and coordinate with the school in environmentally friendly actions at the workplace. Lecturers can incorporate environmental issues in their lectures, give examples, share practical knowledge regarding the responsibility to protect the environment with students and reward positive environmental behavior to encourage them to make more efforts in proposing environmental protection initiatives on campus. In addition, the skills and expertise of the teaching staff should be utilized in providing solutions to environmental problems with the purpose of transmitting them to generations of students as well as other people around. In addition, each employee at universities is also very important in practicing environmental activities and influencing the awareness of students. Therefore, it is necessary to consciously carry out environmental actions in daily official activities, proactively participate in environmental events that the university has organized, update information on university environment initiatives, and encourage their colleagues to adopt environmentally friendly behaviors.

In terms of universities: They should implement green recruitment policies that can highlight the university's environmental stance to attract candidates with a positive environmental mindset; concurrently, organizing training and developing sessions for green human resources, proposing incentives for green human resources and green performance management to promote environmental protection behaviors on university campuses. In addition, universities contribute to promoting green growth by adjusting programs and methods, focusing on environmental education to train green human resources, leading to the changes in the country's growth model through human resource plans, carrying out environmental research and applying scientific initiatives meaningful to the environment to contribute to the planning of Government policies, and participating in exchange activities on green environmental and sustainable society orientations at seminars and conferences to become a solid bridge between the community and the Government.

In terms of the Government: It is necessary to add policies promoting businesses to increase the effective use of green human resources in recruiting staff and lecturers; concurrently, approving and encouraging other related programs regarding green behavior and sustainable environment. This can be explained by the fact that universities, with potential students, will contribute to promoting green growth by changing the way of life, production and consumption by a large number of future human resources. Highly qualified and skilled human resources graduating from green universities will help green the country's economic growth model, resulting in the improvement in the quality of life for every citizen - fulfilling the Government core role. That the Government should aim to "green" the environment brings not only global benefits but also many opportunities to countries, businesses and each person; concurrently, shifting and speeding up economic development towards "green" industry; environmental pollution control; improving capacity to adapt to climate change towards a low carbon economy, reducing emissions and increasing the amount of greenhouse gas absorption, emphasizing the goal of green and sustainable development as an important foundation and necessary factor in the field of education, and supporting the policy of greening universities in particular and educational institutions in general.

The full research article on The Impacts of Green Human Resource Management on Organizational Citizenship Behavior towards the Environment and Environmental Activities on University Campuses can be found HERE.

Authors: Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh, Ho Thi Tam Dieu, Tran Thi Le Na, Le Hieu Ngan, Thai Ngoc Bich Tram - University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City.

This article is part of the Green Research Community series with the message "Research Contribution for UEH Living Lab Green Campus". UEH cordially invites the community to read the next Green Research Community newsletter #2.

*In order to maximally develop the "UEH Green Research Community", community members will be able to attend research method classes on the topic of Living lab, Green Campus. In addition, if their products meet the required standards, the research team will be conferred a Certificate from the UEH Sustainable University Project Board and funding.

News and photos: The authors, UEH Youth Union - Student Association, UEH Department of Marketing and Communication

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