A recent national survey of 2,000 individuals commissioned by Resource Solutions, a leading provider of workforce and advisory solutions, has unveiled a remarkable shift in the attitudes of UK workers towards environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values in the workplace.
The study reveals that more than a third (39%) of individuals aged 55 and above would decline an attractive job offer from an unethical or non-sustainable company, even if it came with a highly competitive compensation package.
Perhaps even more striking is the finding that one in four (27%) respondents in this age group claimed they would ‘climate quit’ their current job if their employer engaged in ‘greenwashing’ behaviour, disproving the assumption that younger generations alone are driving the demand for sustainable practices in the workforce.
While Gen Z employees are leading the charge as the most environmentally-conscious demographic, with 54 percent stating they would leave their current employer if they were found to be making false claims about eco-friendliness or practicing superficial environmental initiatives, the survey highlights a broad trend of ‘climate quitting.’
Environmental and moral values matter
Across all age groups, 35 percent of the UK workforce expressed openness to quitting their jobs if their employer’s actions did not align with their environmental and moral values. Furthermore, half of all respondents (48%) confirmed they would never consider joining certain fields of work due to ethical and environmental concerns, even if these positions offered competitive compensation.
The study also revealed regional variations in attitudes toward ESG values in the workplace, with Londoners emerging as the most eco-conscious job candidates. A staggering 59 percent of respondents from the capital stated they would decline a pay rise if it meant compromising their moral convictions or working in an industry with a poor track record in ESG practices. This percentage was 20 percent higher than the figures recorded in the Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber regions.
Tom Lakin, Global Practice Director at Resource Solutions, emphasised the nuanced nature of the findings:
“While it is often assumed that younger generations are more environmentally and socially conscious than their older colleagues – our data paints a more nuanced picture. Against the backdrop of a current skills shortage, it’s vital businesses retain loyal employees with decades of experience behind them.
The world has experienced a pandemic, a recession, and the ever-escalating climate crisis in just a few years, and employees are more than ever seeking a purpose-driven, inclusive, and value-led employer.”
To help organisations align with these shifting values and attract top talent, Resource Solutions has recently launched the Employee Sustainability Proposition (ESP) audit. This tool allows businesses to evaluate their sustainability offerings and employer branding and receive actionable recommendations.
What about EVP?
Resource Solutions defines the Employee Sustainability Proposition (ESP) as the environmental, social, and governance promises employers make to their employees, which are an integral part of the overall Employer Value Proposition (EVP) – the comprehensive package of benefits and rewards employees receive from their organisation.
Lakin further emphasised the importance of improving ESP to retain talent: “To attract skilled employees of all ages and retain the best talent across the board, investing in improving their Employee Sustainability Proposition (ESP) needs to be a top priority for businesses. As an example, employers can weave the company’s wider ESG mission into the job descriptions for all advertised roles, not just ‘green jobs’ – giving people in all areas of the business a chance to be involved and demonstrate their commitment to the environment.”
The survey results underscore a growing demand for companies to incorporate ESG values into their workplace cultures, from recruitment and branding to daily operations, as employees across generations increasingly prioritise ethical and sustainable employment choices.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.