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Climate quitting: How workers are prioritising the planet

With concern growing over the health of the environment and our time to mitigate global warming becoming ever shorter, many people are taking steps to be more conscious in their everyday choices. Recycling and greener forms of transport have already changed our decisions at home – now the workplace is next on the agenda.

Enter climate quitting. This cultural trend shows that environmental and social factors are having an increased influence on a candidate’s decision process when considering where to work. Climate quitting highlights the need for employers to make a clear commitment to becoming more sustainable in order to attract talented individuals, whilst also retaining existing staff.

What is climate quitting? 

KPMG surveyed over 5,700 UK adults in October 2022 across various experience levels and industries. This included students and school leavers, to capture the feeling of people who are entering the workforce. Respondents were asked about a range of topics relating to the job market and what they look for in an employer.

The results were striking, with the current and future workforce putting increased value on employers who prioritize ESG factors, meaning that they are conscious of the role they can play to positively change their impact on the planet.

What does ESG mean?

ESG stands for environmental, social, and corporate governance. These are standards for assessing a company’s behaviour and are often considered within an overall ‘ESG strategy’. ESG can be broken down into three key factors:

  • Environmental: These criteria can include a business’s policies on climate change and how they intend to negate their effect on the planet.
     
  • Social: How a business handles its relationships with “employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates.” Investopedia
     
  • Corporate Governance: This point focuses on “leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.” – Investopedia


Implementing an ESG strategy in your business could prove to be a vital decision for your future growth, for reasons we’ll explore next. 

The results of KPMG’s study.

How workers feel about environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors.

1 in 3 respondents (30%) researched a company’s ESG credentials when looking for a job, with this number rising to almost half (45%) for those in the 18–24-year-old demographic.

Across all participants, a total of 1 in 5 (20%) had rejected a job offer based on whether the company’s ESG record aligned with their values. This number rose to 1 in 3 among those aged 18–24.

“The environmental impact (46%) and living wage policies (45%) were the key areas that were sought out as part of the recruitment process. Younger workers are most interested in fair pay commitments (18-34 at 45%) while those aged between 35-44 are more likely (45%) to be interested in the environmental impact of the work the company does.”KPMG

Generational climate quitting and commitment to the environment

Across all respondents, 46% want their company to demonstrate a commitment to ESG factors. Taking a closer look, this data is vital to understand how people of different ages want to work. KPMG found that:

  • Workers aged 18-24: 51% value ESG commitments
  • Workers aged 25-34: 55% value ESG commitments
  • Workers aged 35-44: 48% value ESG commitments

Here we can see that younger millennials are the most invested in ESG promises, with Gen Z slightly behind. Older millennials (aged 35-44) ranked third highest, with 48% placing a high value on ESG.

From this data, it’s clear to see that environmental factors are important for younger generations and should be made a focus of every company’s ethos. This is especially pertinent when we consider that millennials will make up the majority of the workforce by 2025 and this data represents a widespread shift in generational workforce values.

Working for more than money

Alongside climate quitting, the study also found a rise in the importance of aligning personal values with work, with 82% of all respondents placing importance on this connection.

This proves that a worker’s motivation is not solely monetary and that younger generations are becoming more selective, to ensure their workplaces match their beliefs and values.

To this end, it’s important to take a more nuanced approach to recruitment, ensuring your company’s ethos matches that of your existing team. 


At Distinct Recruitment, we offer a completely bespoke process designed to attract new talent who will support your efforts and value your culture. As leaders in the field, we’ll take the time to understand both your organisation and our candidates, in order to ensure the right fit. Reach out to our Nottingham office today to discuss your hiring needs.

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