The GPM P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management is a valuable resource for project managers and organizations. The P5 Standard focuses on understanding and managing the potential impacts of your project on the environment, society, and economy. Although its practices are clear and straightforward, we often receive requests for additional context. Therefore, we’re launching a 49-part series aimed at dissecting each element of the standard, providing practical explanations one element at a time.
#1 Employment and Staffing
When we talk about employment and staffing in the P5 standard, we outline practices you need to do to support your team from a sustainability standpoint. That includes everyone from the top dogs, like the project steering committee, right down to every member of the project team, including contractors. You’ve got to figure out what skills you need for your project, find the right people, manage their work and time, give them any training they need, and ensure they’re getting paid fairly.
Example #1, Staffing Your Project
Imagine you’re running a project to build a sustainable housing development. You’d need to consider what skills you need on your team. You might need architects who know their way around sustainable design, construction workers who are pros at using eco-friendly building materials, and project managers who are clued up on sustainability standards and practice.
Maybe these people are already in your organization, or maybe you need to look outside. When you’re hiring, it’s important to let people know that your project is all about sustainability and what kind of skills and experience you’re looking for.
Once you’ve established your team, you need to manage them. This means making sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and when, checking in regularly to see how they’re going, and giving them feedback and tips to help them do their best.
Training is also a big deal in the P5 standard. In our example, you might need to teach your team about the specific sustainable building techniques you’re going to use, or about the P5 standard itself so everyone’s on the same page about your sustainability goals, how to measure impacts and develop a sustainability management plan to track interventions.
Last but not least, you need to make sure everyone’s getting paid fairly. This is not only good for keeping your team happy and motivated, but it also fits with the P5 standard’s focus on fair labor practices.
Example #2, Hiring and Staffing as a Project Deliverable
Imagine you are leading a project to overhaul an organization’s brand image and part of this project is to update employment practices for the organization. During your assessment you uncover three practices and need to change them.
What should you do?
In the P5 standard it states: “Employment and staffing is the process of obtaining the personnel needed to carry out the project. It includes identifying the skills required for successful completion of the project, recruiting potential individuals (internally or externally), managing their time and performance, training them when needed, and compensating them accordingly.”
In Practice, the project team should:
- Invest in training and development programs for project team members to improve their skills and increase their job security.
- Encourage flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting and part-time work.
- Implement fair pay/livable wages and benefits policies to attract and retain high-quality workers.
- Foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture that values and respects all team members.
- Diversify its workforce by recruiting from underrepresented groups.
Given that there are three practices that are unsustainable, the next step would be to score the impact each and determine next steps.
We use a simple likert scale to measure impact. 3 is Neutral, Neither good or bad. 4 is positive and, 5 very positive. On the other end of the spectrum, 2 is negative, and 1, is very bad. You might ask “what is the difference between 2 an 1?” 2 could mean a practice where an employee gets treated unfairly and 1 could be where they are put in danger. Sustainability is largely subjective and so it is important that the scale be adapted to the organization or even the project.
Once you understand the severity, you can develop a remediation plan and add it as an intervention in your sustainability management plan or (SMP). Once you have changed the practices, you can rescore it and demonstrate growth in social sustainability practices!
Three examples of organizations that get it right.
- Ecosia: Ecosia is a search engine that is dedicated to sustainability and environmental conservation. As part of their commitment, they prioritize sustainable staffing practices. Ecosia ensures that their hiring processes are transparent and unbiased, promoting diversity and equal opportunities. They also encourage work-life balance and provide a supportive work environment for their employees.
- Ben & Jerry’s: Ben & Jerry’s, an ice cream company, is well-known for its social and environmental activism. They prioritize sustainable hiring practices by promoting fair labor standards and paying fair wages to their employees. Ben & Jerry’s values diversity and inclusivity in their workforce and actively supports community engagement and sustainability initiatives.
- Interface, Inc.: While Interface is primarily focused on sustainability in their products, they also demonstrate a commitment to sustainable staffing. The company strives to create a positive work environment for their employees, emphasizing employee well-being, professional development, and work-life balance. Interface fosters a culture of sustainability within the organization, ensuring that their commitment extends to their workforce.
These organizations showcase their dedication to sustainable staffing by implementing fair and transparent hiring practices, promoting diversity and inclusion, and prioritizing employee well-being and work-life balance.
Overall, good employment and staffing practices can lead to some great outcomes. Think more job security, better economic growth, happier and more motivated workers, less turnover, and lower labor costs. Plus, it also lines up with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically the one about promoting decent work for all by 2030.
How you handle employment and staffing is a really important part of the P5 standard. It can make a big difference to the success of your project and to wider sustainability goals. By thinking carefully about what skills you need, finding the right people, managing them well, providing training, and paying fairly, you can create a positive and productive project environment.