Quarter of UK workers would take pay cut to work for company that protects planet

Environmental Jobs

Rising interest in climate change among the UK population has now reached such a level that our desire to take action is impacting our careers.

A recent survey found that over a quarter of workers willing to take a salary cut in order to move to an environmentally conscious company or an NGO.

The rise of the ‘Green Cut’: workers willing to reduce salaries to go green

An additional 28% said they would consider quitting their job to work with for an organisation they considered to be more environmentally friendly than their current one, a figure that jumps to 50% when applied to millennial workers, aged between 23 and 38.

When asked how much money they would be willing to knock off their annual salaries to take such roles, it seems there is a genuine appetite to put the planet before personal profit. On average, workers were willing to accept a salary reduction of £8,100 per annum to take up a greener role and again, the numbers were driven by age.

Millennial workers were willing to take the greatest hit, suggesting they would drop their salaries by an average of £11,400, which is three times the amount (£3,800) that Gen X – those aged 38-54 – would be willing to take.

The green job market – what do businesses need to do?

Exploring a company’s green credentials is becoming commonplace during the jobseeking process – particularly for younger workers. 18% of people would refuse to work for a company they considered to be harmful to the environment, a figure that jumps to 34% for those aged 22-38 and in total, 50% of the entire workforce would at least consider not joining a company because of their environmental practices.

6 in 10 of all UK workers now actively investigate a potential employer’s environmental impact as part of their job application process, with another significant jump (rising to 72%) when applied to the millennial workforce. But the scrutiny does not end at application, UK workers are demanding to see more from their current employers too.

80% of UK workers believe their employer has a responsibility to take action on the environment, but just over half believe their employer is doing enough to be environmentally friendly. In terms of solutions, addressing carbon emissions is the issue that seems to resonate the strongest, with 31% of employees calling on their company to commit to either a neutral or reduced carbon footprint.

Poignantly, 58% of workers are willing to accept spending limits elsewhere, with a view of funding increased green initiatives. Amongst the most popular areas to cut in order to fund environmental improvements were company furniture, staff parties and events and team lunches.

What’s inspiring green thinking?

The UK workforce is keener to go greener than ever before and this can be seen by the nation being influenced by leading environmental figures such as Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion.

59% of people claim to be more interested in the climate crisis than they were five years ago, but this figure drops to 51% when asked if they have become more engaged in the past 12 months. Increased media focus has driven change most effectively, with a third attributing their increased engagement to the proliferation of news articles.

It also appears the nation’s ongoing love-affair with national treasure Sir David Attenborough has had a massive effect on people going greener. Nearly a third believe that TV shows such as Blue Planet 2 have been most responsible for driving their interest in green issues, while a fifth said the campaigning of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion has influenced them. Meanwhile, discussions with friends and families has also been pivotal in shaping opinions.

While our interest in the environment is clearly growing, the report also suggests that there is more to be done. 53% had never heard of the Paris Agreement (COP21 – the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal signed in 2016 by 195 nations) and over a fifth of respondents had never heard of Extinction Rebellion and a similar percentage has never heard of Greta Thunberg.

Gudrun Cartwright, Environment Director, Business in the Community, comments on the report: “It has never been more important for businesses to be part of the solution to our planetary crises. Young people are no longer begging leaders to change but telling them that change is coming regardless.

“Businesses that ignore it face an imminent existential threat. For those that get ahead of the curve, turning talk into action at speed and scale, the opportunities are immense. Our futures depend on rapid, ambitious action, and we can all make a difference.”

Lynn Cahillane, Head of Marketing at Totaljobs, said: “Our research demonstrates just how important environmental concerns are to the UK workforce and how they expect their employers to contribute towards stopping the climate crisis. For employers, this presents a unique challenge, but also an opportunity.

“With a widely reported skills shortage, employers have the opportunity to showcase a clear commitment to reducing carbon emissions and help tackle the climate crisis. A step, which could make the difference in attracting the UK’s most sought-after workers.

“As well as its growing role in attracting talent, companies also need to address their practices to ensure they are retaining staff too. The findings tell us that people are prepared to leave their job for a greener role, so businesses that can’t communicate their environmental record could potentially suffer. On the whole, UK decision-makers are confident they have the right plans in place, but with one in ten confessing that they ‘would not know where to start’ – there is still room for greater education.”