Working to save the world
A quarter of UK workers would take a significant pay cut to work in a ‘planet-saving’ job
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Published: 20 December 2019
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
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.
Research from Totaljobs reveals over a quarter of workers (26%) are willing to take a salary cut in order to move to an environmentally conscious company or an NGO.
The ‘Green Cut’
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
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 its environmental practices.
Six 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.
‘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.’
Head of marketing at Totaljobs
Demanding more from employers
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 (59%) believe their employer is doing enough to be environmentally friendly.
‘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.’
Environment director, Business in the Community
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.
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 (23%), staff parties and events (20%) and team lunches (18%).
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 and such as Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, and movements such as 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 (33%) 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 (32%) believe that TV shows such as Blue Planet II have been most responsible for driving their interest in green issues, while a fifth (18%) said the campaigning of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion has influenced them.
Discussions with friends and families (21%) have also been pivotal in shaping opinions.
More work to be done
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 (21%) of respondents had never heard of Extinction Rebellion. A similar percentage (22%) has never heard of Greta Thunberg.