7 Key Steps To Achieve Sustainability in Business Operations by 2024

Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

7 Key Steps To Achieve Sustainability in Business Operations by 2024

Posted in:

Customers increasingly want to prioritize companies that operate sustainably. Many expect their favorite organizations to uphold sustainable business operations and will go elsewhere if that doesn’t happen. Sustainable business enhancements don’t happen overnight but are gradually achievable when people take decisive actions.

1. Set Measurable Goals

Begin by choosing some challenging but reachable goals you can easily track. Start by focusing on a broad aim. Then, determine how you’ll measure it and decide what constitutes success.

For example, maybe you want to increase the amount of recycling within the organization. After selecting that target, think about how much you want the activity to rise over a particular period. Finally, establish a tracking mechanism to see how close the organization gets to its targets.

Occasionally falling short of them does not necessarily indicate failure. However, it could mean you need to adjust goals, improve messaging or make other relatively minor tweaks. 

2. Start With Accessible, Achievable Actions

Establishing sustainable business operations becomes much easier when selecting the most manageable options first. Otherwise, people could become overwhelmed and discouraged, ultimately believing sustainability improvements are too far out of reach.

One possibility is to explore what other companies have done in their sustainability efforts. Then, you can find accessible actions most likely to have positive impacts. When people see those results, they’ll feel motivated and empowered to continue the changes. 

A 2023 study found that building-based renewable energy initiatives were widespread, with 59% of businesses pursuing them. The same percentage also adopted more ways to use renewable materials. Another popular option was extending the energy efficiency to updated equipment or technologies, and 54% of respondents tried it. 

3. Encourage Employee Involvement

Many people appreciate working for companies where they do more than earn paychecks. Contributing to the greater good gives them a sense of purpose. Plus, when workers collaborate on the same goals, everyone benefits from the collective effort and support.

Consider sustainable actions that will create positive habits people can use within and outside the workplace. For example, urge employees to cut lunchtime waste by bringing food in reusable containers. Adding secure bike storage options to the parking lot shows individuals how easy it is to cut emissions. If your business is outside a bicycle-friendly area, consider offering public transit passes as a worker perk. 

4. Switch to Sustainable Packaging Methods 

Whether a business sells fresh fruit or office furniture, it probably needs significant packaging. Since strategically chosen packages can protect goods, display them for potential customers and promote freshness or stability, the most practical solution is likely not elimination.

However, there are many other ways to prioritize sustainable packaging methods. For example, you could find ways to use less shrink wrap or strengthen the material to minimize resource usage. Alternatively, look for as many package reuse options as possible. Maybe your company recently bought a new printer. Could you use that item’s box to ship something to a customer?

Another possibility is to try reusable products that people ship back to your business. Some specialists sell boxes, bags and mailing envelopes designed for dozens of uses. These may have higher upfront costs than you previously relied on, but the costs should even out due to reusability.

5. Take Customer-Centric Approaches

People often feel that sustainability issues are too massive for them to address. However, your customers will undoubtedly appreciate it if your sustainable business operations bring measurable benefits to them. See how changes made at your organization could support everyday people in making positive choices through choosing your company over others.

For example, many individuals prefer to shop locally when possible. If you start making more arrangements with nearby suppliers and telling customers about that decision, people will have multiple reasons to choose your business.

Alternatively, consider partnering with a sustainability-oriented charity and donating a portion of each sale to their cause. You could also investigate carbon-offset shipping options.  If you find narrowing down the best of many appealing options challenging, ask people what sustainable changes they’d like to see.

Since sustainability is a major selling point for many of today’s customers, they’ll appreciate you taking the time to get their input.  Post updates on social media, your business blog and other outlets to keep everyone in the loop. 

6. Receive and Respond to Feedback

Achieving sustainable business operations requires time, attention and dedication. Everyone involved must also be receptive to feedback and understand that unanticipated shortcomings may arise.

Perhaps a new sustainable cookie package does not prevent them from getting crushed before customers open the treats. That insight warrants looking for more durable and useful options. Employees might also mention how a new timed lighting system in the restrooms does not operate at the correct intervals to suit their typical uses.

Being open to those comments will show the most effective ways to tackle issues. When people see the positive changes, they’ll appreciate how you listened to and acted on what they said.

You may not make the right sustainable decisions on the first attempts. However, a commitment to making necessary improvements will enable more progress. 

7. Prioritize Data-Driven Decision-Making

Implementing new sustainable business operations isn’t always easy. However, you can become more confident about making the best choices by using data to guide your actions.

That approach can show instances of the company already operating more sustainably than expected. It’ll also highlight the areas most in need of improvement. However, when a 2023 study examined barriers to environmental, social and governance goals, the statistics showed businesses must explore better data-handling methods.

For example, 73% of executives said their companies had too much manual data. Additionally, 70% reported challenges with consolidating or working with that internal information.

Spend time assessing data quality, processing procedures, analysis strategies and other aspects that could interfere with using that information to make meaningful choices. Consider hiring or setting up a team of people tasked with creating and maintaining company-wide practices that will help you use data for sustainability reasons and otherwise.

Begin Pursuing Sustainable Business Operations Today

Even businesses that have won awards for sustainability efforts and frequently get recognized as the most admirable examples of what’s possible had to establish those commitments over time. Choose this year as the time to work toward better sustainability and stay dedicated to maintaining or building upon that momentum in the coming years.