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🌍 Circular by Design: HR Strategies for a Sustainable Business Model


Last week, I attended an insightful workshop on the Circular Economy, led by Marisa & Anna from The Inceptery.

We explored how to transform a traditional business model into a circular one. The circular economy focuses on minimizing waste and maximizing resources, creating a positive impact while generating a successful business model.


It was a great experience that made me reflect on HR's crucial role in facilitating such transformations. Here are some of my key takeaways:


🌱 Cultivating a Sustainable and Agile Culture: Embedding sustainability and agility into the core values of your organization is essential. It must be evident in everyday behaviours of your organization. To name a few:

  • performance management (to ensure alignment of goals and priorities)

  • employee engagement (defining and aligning the culture, mission and values - and embed them at all levels),

  • skills development (what type of skills and competencies need to be developed, when and how),

  • decision-making processes (how to ensure we make the right decisions from a people and process perspective, and how we try, experiment fast and integrate learnings).


🔄 Change Management: Change can be easy or challenging, depending on the approach. Most of us have experienced tough changes, unfinished transformations! It's crucial to help leaders and employees understand, embrace, and navigate change. Tools such as:

  • stakeholders mapping

  • effective communication (who needs to hear what, when, and for which outcome)

  • engaging people in reflection processes ( creating focus groups and project communities ensure diverse perspectives, resilience, and better results).

💡 Innovation & Design: Innovation starts with creative thinking and design. A culture of experimentation is essential, where it's safe to try, fail, disagree, and bring diverse views that strengthen final decisions. This ties into a robust culture including:

  • diversity and inclusion (where you create conditions for the most solid perspectives),

  • encouraging continuous improvement (start somewhere and learn from your previous iteration. Create systems to support continuous improvement. 1% a day can be enough, as per James Clear's book Atomic Habits!)

  • open feedback (offer opportunities to encourage, course correct, provide context so you get better results, quickly).


📚 Hiring, Retraining & Upskilling: Transitioning to a circular economy requires new skills and knowledge, some can be developed, some will need to be acquired.

  • Hire diverse profiles, such as circular economy specialists, to bring new ideas and help trial and scale concepts.

  • Invest in retraining and upskilling programs to ensure your workforce adapts to new processes and technologies. This supports the circular model, reduces costs (laying off and rehiring is always the costliest solution, overall), and enhances employee engagement, retention, and employability—key differentiators in our VUCA world. Success requires anticipation and a programmatic approach.


The success of the circular economy depends on active participation from everyone in the organization. Let's work together to make sustainability a central pillar of our business strategies. HR plays a pivotal role. By investing in our people and accompanying the business in its transformation we can pave the way for a more sustainable and circular future.


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