NATIONAL REPORT—Many businesses are happy that a new year is here, after an incredibly challenging period over the previous two. It’s a unique opportunity, as 2022 begins, to rethink how you do business and speak to the needs and preferences of consumers as they exist today.
One priority for so many consumers in every aspect of their lives is sustainability.
Consumers tend to be drawn to companies they feel reflect their values. One such value that’s a growing priority is eco-friendliness and being conscious of your consumption and impact on the world around you.
Sustainability can mean a lot of different things. For example, what makes a product sustainable can include the materials it’s made with, how it’s made, what it’s used for, or its packaging.
Sustainability isn’t just for your products, however. You can be sustainable in how your employees work, the causes you dedicate time and money to, and how you innovate and think about the future.
There are simple things that cost no money that you can integrate into your business immediately. For example, maybe you work on being a paperless office, or you pledge to reduce energy consumption in your office by a certain percentage.
Regardless of your specific approach, it’s difficult to ignore the business benefits that come with sustainability, which we highlight below.
You May Feel Personally Drawn to Environmental Causes
There are personal reasons that you might want your business to be more sustainable in how you work. You want to prioritize the environment for yourself, your children, and future generations. Businesses have a responsibility to behave to minimize their environmental impact as part of the global community.
You may have a personal calling toward being more sustainable, and that’s a good reason in and of itself.
When you lead a business with values front and center, it tends to do well. Your employees will see you as someone with principles, and that’s at the core of how you run the business. That creates a positive perception internally and externally. It becomes part of your personal brand.
A study found 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions. While these may be some of the most prominent global organizations, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for smaller businesses in cutting down on both emissions and waste.
Your Employees May Feel More Connected to the Company
Right now, employers are grappling with serious labor shortages. Employees are leaving businesses that often were long-time employers. They’re looking for work that offers them more than maybe what they had before the pandemic. As part of your efforts to attract new talent and retain your existing employees, focusing on sustainability is suitable for your employer brand.
It’s going to show your employees that you’re about more than just revenue and profitability. Employees are likely to feel more engaged when they know their employer stands for something and understands social responsibility.
You can also create opportunities for employees to get involved in your sustainability efforts in ways that resonate with them. For example, maybe you offer a day each month where employees can volunteer and choose environmental-related opportunities if they’d like.
You can also make it a fun challenge to see who can achieve certain sustainability milestones in the workplace.
Cultivate loyalty among your employees with your sustainability efforts.
You may already face regulatory requirements regarding the environment and your impact. These are only likely to increase in number and complexity in the coming years, so it’s best to get ahead of the regulatory requirements now.
You’ll be prepared for changes that might arise in your location or industry, and you’ll be more agile for it.
Being sustainable will help your profitability if you’re strategic in implementing new policies and practices. You can cut your spending through sustainability in a variety of ways.
For example, you can produce less waste that you then have to manage or lower your electricity bills.
You can do more of your work digitally rather than relying on paper or energy-consuming machines.
Maybe you save on overhead costs by having employees work from home more often. Following a hybrid schedule helps the environment because you eliminate their commute and the resources employees would use in the office.
We’re in an era where consumers are incredibly discerning, and they have nearly endless choices as to who they can do business with. Consumers want to give their money to companies that reflect their values and priorities.
You can use your sustainability efforts as part of your marketing to create more of a connection and sense of loyalty with your employees and your customers.
Sustainability adds a new dimension to your marketing and gives you a way to create different types of content and reach other audiences as well.
With that being said, companies will often pretend sustainability is a priority and then don’t put it into action. You need to do things and take observable actions to your customers because that’s ultimately what matters more than simply saying you’re sustainable.
If you want to gain an advantage over your competitors, one great way to do that is to embrace sustainability. A study of global Fortune 1000 companies found that those organizations that measure sustainability performance outperform the bottom half of companies by as much as 38 percent.
Finally, you may be able to identify new business opportunities through sustainability. More market opportunities have been opening up because of sustainable material sourcing, efficient logistics, fair labor and business practices, local economy focus, and renewable energy.
Millennials and younger generations are the primary consumer group right now, and they want sustainability. It’s a great year to consider this in all parts of your business, not just because you want to be a valuable part of the global community but also to benefit your business.