5 pillars for a sustainable organisation
Working with sustainability can take many forms. You may want to change how you work to achieve more sustainable results, or you may be looking for ways to future proof your processes. Whichever it is, an understanding of what sustainability means is essential. In order to more easily understand the concept of sustainability, we have divided the topic into five main pillars, which we will look at in more detail in this post.
1. Sustainable staff
The culture of your organisation will largely be created and shaped by your staff. This means that investing time and effort in creating the right working climate and culture should be your first priority. The more you can encourage sustainable attitudes and practices among your employees, the more this will spread throughout the organisation.
It is important that your employees feel connected to your business goals. Often these business goals are expressed in impactful slogans or mottoes, but what do such words really mean to your employees? How do your leaders show what matters to the company?
When working groups share information and results, that creates a positive working culture which leads to sustainable collaboration. When we create human relationships, it becomes much easier to work together towards common goals.
Companies often communicate results through statistics and data, but this doesn’t always inspire your employees. Try to find a more attractive way to communicate your business goals. Try to understand what interests your employees and what makes your working groups function as efficiently as possible.
2. Sustainable design
Once you’ve designed a sustainability plan for your employees, it’s time to review your products and/or services. Sustainable design isn’t just about what materials you use to create your products, or what methods you use to create and sell your services. It’s also about what your products and services do.
But sustainable design isn’t always about making alternatives that are as environmentally friendly as possible. It can also be simply about future proofing your products. For example, if you use a particular material for your products which won’t be available in the same volumes over time, it may be a good idea to switch to another material before the cost of that new material has increased.
Constantly evaluate your design choices to find the most sustainable way forward.
3. Sustainable processes
When it comes to sustainable business processes, a lot has been said about the strategies and tactics you can use to improve business efficiency. Often, however, things aren’t as simple in reality as they can appear on paper, so what’s the real key to creating sustainable processes?
As with every other complex problem, this question doesn’t have a simple answer. As a company, you must systematically look at all the processes in your organisation and map them from the ground up. Sustainable processes involve creating a cycle of feedback and improvement. No matter how well designed a process is, when it begins to be used in practice it will never be how it looked in the planning stage. This is why it’s important to constantly monitor how your processes perform.
“Sustainable growth isn’t
just about growing quickly, but
rather about growing at a realistic
pace that can be maintained for
a longer period of time”
4. Sustainable customers
Now that we’ve talked about the company's employees, products and processes, it’s time to address the people who actually make the company work; your customers. How do you create a long-lasting relationship with customers, and how do you ensure they don’t move over to your competitors?
This point can be designed as a three-step process:
Step 1: Encourage loyalty
Reward your customers for their purchases and they will come back. According to a study by SumAll, 27% of all customers return after their first purchase, while someone who has made four purchases has a 59% chance of returning. This means it can pay dividends to offer a good discount on those first three purchases.
Step 2: Don't let yourself be forgotten
Brand recognition is a concept that all marketing experts preach. In short, this is all about a customer’s ability to recognise your products when they see your message. There are many ways to stand out, for example through stylish packaging, consistent use of colours or by addressing issues that are important to your business. But what really matters is not letting your customers forget you.
Step 3: Invest in your customer service
While many people believe the price or quality of a product are the most crucial factors when it comes to sustainable customers, customer service is actually one of the most important aspects. Customers are four times more likely to switch to a competitor if their problems have been service-related.
Invest in your customer service by training your staff, setting up a live chat on your website and being present on social media. Not entirely unexpectedly, actually having contact with your customers is one of the most important aspects when it comes to sustainable customers.
We’ve talked about four important pillars, but for many companies it’s this fifth and final pillar that’s the most important one. Sustainable growth isn’t just about growing quickly, but rather about growing at a realistic pace that can be maintained for a longer period of time. Here are two tips on how you can achieve sustainable growth:
Tip #1: Create a good brand
A good brand means a good connection to your customers, which in turn leads to loyal customers. If you have a loyal customer base, it’s much easier to grow as you can expect your customers to follow along on your journey.
Tip #2: Constantly analyse and evaluate your strategies
When it comes to sustainable growth, you should never be satisfied. The circumstances surrounding your business are constantly changing. By creating a feedback loop in your business, you increase the chances of your growth becoming sustainable.
Towards a sustainable business
We have now talked about the five pillars of a sustainable organisation. By working with them, your company will have a greater chance of succeeding in the future. Feel free to contact us to talk more about sustainability!