The bottom line is what defines most businesses. To maintain a healthy bottom line, it is usually required that you make similarly healthy profits. Until recently, most major companies have followed the belief that to simply continue to make profits is enough to maintain a healthy bottom line and, therefore, a healthy business. However, the times they are a changing. It is now becoming more common for businesses to strive towards more sustainable, long-term strategies to increase profit through social responsibility, efficiency and staff satisfaction.
In a way, it feels as if globalisation has come full circle. While we still live in a globalised world, a greater need for controlling the impact from our immediate surroundings has arisen. Yes, living a more sustainable life will help the entire world, but it is focused on a narrower geographical location. Lowering your carbon footprint will benefit the many, but it is achieved by reducing the air miles of your food, driving less and spending less on disposable items, all of which are strong proponents of globalisation.
Business strategies must evolve to replicate this. We’re not necessarily talking about just being “greener”. This is about implementing strategies based on longevity, not just profit, that benefit the many, not the few. The days of the greedy businessman are over. It’s time to be more conscientious of our limits and how to excel within them. The following four strategies could be the key for your business to do exactly that.
1. Investing in Staff
Investing in staff should be considered a cornerstone of sustainable business practice. Through training or staff incentives, you can develop a workforce full of motivated, engaged, satisfied people. It’s important to remember that employee engagement can be affected by up to 70% because of someone’s management style. Furthermore, bad managers are considered by some to be the top reason people leave their jobs, so remember that management training is just as important as training for new recruits!
2. Reducing Waste
This is a fairly obvious strategy, but it goes hand and hand with increasing efficiency. Does your office really need to create three copies of everything? Might it be easier and faster to access information if it was in one central location? But we’re not just talking about paper waste; you need to think further than the immediate problems. Reducing waste is great, but where does it go? Could you possibly reduce your costs by changing to a more sustainable waste removal company? Perhaps you could even share costs with a neighbouring business…
3. Increasing Efficiency
By investing in staff and reducing waste, we are inevitably increasing efficiency. Efficiency is great for business, but it’s also great for sustainability both at work and for our planet. Efficient organisations use less energy, produce less waste and are more organised.
If your company is investing properly in its staff, it should also see staff retention rates increasing. Performance management has been proven to help develop a sustainable workforce. It is both inefficient and wasteful to have to continuously hire new members of staff. Furthermore, the longer your workforce stays intact, the more experienced they become, further increasing their value to the company.
4. Understanding The Costs
While we have mostly covered the benefits of sustainable business strategies in terms of profits, there are lessons to be learnt from understanding the cost of things for our planet. By this, we mean the impact that our decisions have upon it. For example, the sustainable use of water is an increasingly important part of our responsibility to the planet.
It’s easy to distance yourself from the sewage treatment that is required every time you use the toilet. There are great advances being made in the sewage treatment process, but you as a consumer must be complicit in the sustainable use of water. An effluent plant is capable of producing reusable water, but only if the sewage treatment is of a high enough standard. So always be mindful of the cost of your products in terms of water; you’d be surprised at the amount of wastewater treatment some industries require.
Hopefully, these strategies will help to increase the sustainability of your business. It’s important to remember that profit and social responsibilities can work hand in hand.