Using the ‘Strategic Framework for a Just Transition’ in Human Resources

Rebecca Zelis
2 min readMar 21, 2021

The “take, make, dispose” economic model of the industrial era dominated business for generations. Company profits relied on large amounts of inexpensive materials and energy and this mindset was often transposed to a “disposable” workforce.

The Strategic Framework for a Just Transition is a framework for shifting to a more responsible and regenerative use of natural resources. This model can also inform how businesses see human capital.

A Regenerative Model for human capital rethinks the way we utilize people’s energy. In today’s service economy companies must create work environments that develop, instead of diminish, their most valuable resources. In the same way our natural resources are limited, shortage of talent demands that employees’ every experience with a company builds a relationship seen as having mutual benefit.

Extractive Model
In an extractive model, companies simply traded money (as little as possible) for people’s energy. It was the worker’s responsibility (not the employer’s) to ensure the worker was highly productive. Work-life balance, health, and personal relationships were sacrificed to ensure maximum output. Employees were expected to unilaterally obey Management regardless of personal viewpoints or values. Leaders were cultivated to fit the model and expectations of their superiors, creating a hierarchical environment and a culture of conformity.

Regenerative Model
In a regenerative model, companies optimize internal systems to support their employees, and work to address external influences on employee well-being with the understanding that an employees’ performance can be affected by multiple factors existing both in and outside of the workplace. Continual feedback and sincere attention to employee experience build an understanding that an employee’s engagement, commitment, and experience are part of a collective responsibility that includes the employee, coworkers, supervisors, department managers, community, company, and also clients/customers.

The first step in building a regenerative model is RESTORATION. Through company values, human capital shifts from an exploitive model to a generative one. Investing in employees and building their skills results in self-governance and higher employee engagement. When employees are seen as a valuable and renewable resources instead of threats to profit, the workplace becomes a place of purpose where people’s work and values align with the company’s.

Movement Generation notes, “An economy based on extracting from a finite system faster than the capacity of the system to regenerate will eventually come to an end.” The same is true for relationships with valued employees who are unable to regenerate their creativity and well-being in the workplace.



Rebecca Zelis

Culture Strategist improving how institutions and systems interact with people.