Sluggishness in Sustainability Risks Brain Drain for Businesses

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#BupaUK–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 Z 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 UK’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 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.

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 2021.

As a result, workers want more of a say and to see tangible action on sustainability. 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. And they favour working with eco-friendly start-ups, rather than sticking with set practices.

Rachel Murray, Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing at Bupa Global & UK says: “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. Giving people more of a direct say in what ESG initiatives they want to see is likely to become more widespread within UK businesses.”

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

“Over the last three years, our global eco-Disruptive programme 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. 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.”

To collaborate and learn, on 12th July 2023, Bupa hosted eco-Disruptive Live in London. The event brought together over 400 people to celebrate the eco-Disruptive programme. Over 20 speakers, including sustainability impact investor and TV personality Deborah Meaden, Futurist Shivvy Jervis, and 2022 Earthshot prize winner and Co-Founder of NotPla Pierre Paslier, participated in discussions around the importance of start-ups in driving sustainable innovation, with lessons from leading entrepreneurs in the sustainable business space.

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