In the United Kingdom, employers are being urged to strengthen their commitments to meeting sustainability and net zero goals, or risk an exodus of their younger workers. According to the latest Bupa Wellbeing Index, nearly half (48%) of Gen Z workers — people born between 1996 and 2010 — would consider leaving a job that didn’t make good on its sustainability promises.
Workers indicated they’d be willing to take a 19% reduction in pay — rising to 23% among Gen Z — to work for a company that’s taking action against climate change.
The survey, which explores the state of the UK’s health and wellbeing, found that despite worries around inflation and the cost of living, two-fifths of all workers (42%) would accept a job with lower pay to work for a more ethical organization. That number was even higher for Gen Z workers, rising to 66%. On average, workers indicated they’d be willing to take a 19% reduction in pay — rising to 23% among Gen Z — to work for a company that’s taking action against climate change.
The survey also revealed evidence of the impact of environmental issues on mental health: 42% of workers said a lack of action on social or environmental issues by their employer has a negative effect on their mental health, up from 33% in 2021.
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As a result, workers want more input and to see tangible action on sustainability. For just over one in five (21%) workers, it’s not enough for senior leaders to make promises on sustainability without getting input from the wider workforce, rising to 29% among Gen Z.
Fore more than half of Gen Z workers (56%), suggesting sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives to leadership, and seeing them come to fruition, would make them more motivated at work. And they prefer to work with eco-friendly start-ups, rather than sticking with set practices.
“For younger workers, it’s essential that their employer is setting and meeting ambitious sustainability goals that they can see is making tangible change,” said Rachel Murray, Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing at Bupa Global & U. “Many Gen Z workers in particular feel their generation is responsible for protecting the environment – a pressure that can take its toll on wellbeing and mental health in the workplace when they see practices that go against good sustainability action. Giving people more of a direct say in what ESG initiatives they want to see is likely to become more widespread within UK businesses.”
“This research shows that an increasing proportion of the UK workforce is giving businesses a mandate: we must do more to reach our sustainability targets,” commented James O’Reilly, Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer for Bupa Global & UK. “At Bupa, we are committed to our ESG initiatives and have seen first-hand the value of getting our people involved in our sustainability agenda.
“Our advice is to listen to your people and take them on the journey with you to find your sustainable solutions. In turn, this will drive business engagement, performance, talent attraction and retention, particularly within the increasingly important Gen Z workforce.”
— James O’Reilly, Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer, Bupa Global & UK
“Over the last three years, our global eco-Disruptive program has given our people the opportunity to engage with eco start-ups to drive healthcare innovation into our business and help meet our sustainability and net zero targets,” he continued. “For example, our Cromwell Hospital has introduced two eco start-up concepts over the last two years, a device from SageTech Medical that recycles waste anaesthetic gases and Upcycled Medical’s scrubs made of recycled plastic. This has had a positive impact on the hospital as well as created pride in the team of the steps they’ve taken to help make a difference to the planet.
“We know many companies have fast approaching sustainability and net zero targets and now is the time to act,” O’Reilly concluded. “Our advice is to listen to your people and take them on the journey with you to find your sustainable solutions. In turn, this will drive business engagement, performance, talent attraction and retention, particularly within the increasingly important Gen Z workforce.”