Employers are being urged to shore up their commitments to meeting sustainability and net zero targets or risk an exodus amongst younger workers. Nearly half (48%) of Gen Z1 workers agree they would consider leaving a job that didn’t walk the talk in its promises on sustainability.

This is according to the latest Bupa Wellbeing Index, a landmark survey that uncovers the state of the nation’s health and wellbeing.

The research found that despite worries around inflation and the cost of living, two-fifths of all workers (42%) say they’d accept a job on lower pay to work for a more ethical or environmentally active organisation. This rose to 66% amongst the Gen Z demographic.

On average, workers are willing to take a significant 19% reduction in pay, rising to 23% among Gen Z to work for a company who is taking action against climate change.Rachel Murray, Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing at Bupa Global & UK commented:

For younger workers, it’s essential that their employer is setting and meeting ambitious sustainability goals that they can see is making tangible change. 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.

Rachel Murray, Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing at Bupa Global & UK

There’s also increasing 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 20213.

As a result, workers want more of a say and to see tangible action on sustainability and net zero targets. Just over one in five (21%) workers say it’s not enough for senior leaders to put out promises on sustainability without getting input from the wider workforce – rising to 29% among Gen Z.

Over half of Gen Z workers (56%) say putting forward sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives to leadership, and seeing these come to fruition, would make them more motivated at work, in turn driving productivity, loyalty and talent retention. And they favour working with eco-friendly start-ups and innovators that move the needle, rather than sticking with set practices.

James O’Reilly, Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer for Bupa Global & UK said:

We know many companies have fast approaching sustainability and net zero targets and now is the time to act. 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 for Bupa Global & UK

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.