Younger workers say they would rather work for ethical companies – with a quarter saying they would never work for businesses that profit from unsustainable practices.

The report by digital product studio, PLAY, asked Gen Z employees about their views on sustainability initiatives in business.

Two-thirds surveyed felt it was important for the company they work for to be committed to acting sustainably – nearly half want businesses to take steps to be more sustainable.

CEO of PLAY, Marcus Thornley, said: “Businesses need to create clear, transparent sustainability goals and initiatives to be accountable to, but must also be looking at how they can help staff act more sustainably in their own lives and possibly even reward them for that.” 

Sustainability initiatives attract talent

The data also showed sustainable behaviour could help employers with talent attraction and retention.

More than half of employees polled, saying they would be more likely to work for a company that provides resources and tools for them to become more sustainable.

But despite this clear demand for support in sustainable habit change the study showed that the majority did not provide staff with any tools or resources to build more sustainable habits.

Salary and benefits important for workers, but social purpose a key factor too

When asked what factors would make them more likely to take a new job, employees still value a good salary the most, followed by a good benefits package, and a convenient office location. 

However, many felt their company should have a clear social, ethical purpose as well.

This ranked slightly higher than factors such as remote or hybrid working being available.

Concerningly, less than half the workers polled feel that their company’s sustainability actions make a difference, and over a third said they don’t know if their company does anything to act sustainably. 

Workers unaware of sustainability initiatives, as most are voluntary

When it comes to how companies help their employees act sustainably, the most common actions taken are voluntary initiatives to encourage sustainability.

Volunteering days on top of annual leave, and enforcing sustainable practices, such as paperless offices. 

This suggests that most companies are implementing voluntary projects, which could be why many people may not be aware of them. 

Mr. Thornley added, “implementing behavioural design tools that use game approaches can help employers incentivise habit changes, measure success over time, and help to make a tangible impact.”

The good news is that employers do clearly recognise the need to improve on this.

4 out of 5 of business leaders say their organisation should support employees in making sustainable decisions, and many feel workers should be rewarded for acting sustainably.





Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.