Green practices boost engagement at HP

The environment matters to employees and customers
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/27/2007

Martha McIver, vice-president of human resources for Hewlett-Packard Canada, said the results of the company’s long-standing commitment to the community can be seen in increased employee engagement.

“One of the reasons people are proud to work at HP is our commitment to the environment. I think it’s something that matters to our employees and, increasingly, it’s something that matters to our customers,” she said.

The initiatives Hewlett-Packard has undertaken, and are recognized for, are too many for McIver to name. They began with founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s commitment to global citizenship as a high priority for the company back in 1957, said McIver. And they have been demonstrated through such programs as the internal product recycling program, started in 1987, and the design for environment program, launched in 1994 to ensure the product design stage takes environmental issues into consideration.

Among the company’s green commitments is to recycle one billion cumulative pounds of hardware and print cartridges by the end of the 2007. Last year, the company introduced a new energy management system designed to deliver 20 per cent to 45 per cent savings in cooling energy costs or to maintain constant power costs while equipment continues to be added.

It also announced a joint venture with the World Wildlife Fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from operating facilities worldwide. And the company has committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from facilities owned and leased by HP by 15 per cent by 2010.

These efforts have garnered a fair share of accolades. Already this year, the company has been named by

Corporate Knights

magazine as one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Last year, it won the Recycling Council of British Columbia Environment Award in the private sector category and the Ceres-ACCA North American Award for Sustainability Reporting.

As head of HR, the accolades McIver boasts most about are the ones coming from employees. Last year, as part of an Earth Day event, the company encouraged employees to bring back used equipment so it could be sent to a recycling plant at no charge.

“We did some surveys and found that 70 per cent of employees found HP’s commitment to the environment is important to them and is part of why they’re committed to work for HP. As part of that survey, we asked, in terms of being an environmentally responsible company, how would they rate HP. And 85 per cent of our employees see HP as a leader,” said McIver.

She sees this pride in the verbal feedback employees get from customers. On occasion, such as Christmas or back-to-school events, when people who don’t normally work with customers are asked to help at the front line, “people will come back very energized by having learned more about our products and hearing the feedback from customers about the recycling program and the energy efficient products.”

Another program that has strong employee endorsement is HP’s flexible work options, in which employees can work from home, either full time or several days a week, or work compressed work weeks. Those who work from home will have their connection costs supported by HP. Of HP Canada’s 4,000 employees, about 12 per cent work permanently from home.

“So if you’re talking about being a green company, this would definitely be one of the ways we provide flexibility to workers in terms of choice of work location as well as a decrease in commuting time,” said McIver. With employees signing up for flexible options to address child-care or commuting needs, she said she sees this program having an impact on employee engagement and attraction and retention.

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