Benefits packages: Why workers want green roles and rewards from corporates

Yet more research has poured in noting a surging demand for green skills and green jobs. However, there is a risk that as more employees gain knowledge on sustainability matters, they may become dissuaded by firms failing to offer sustainable benefits packages.

Benefits packages: Why workers want green roles and rewards from corporates

Last year, LinkedIn data confirmed that the global hiring rate for green jobs is 24% higher than the overall hiring rate.

Green jobs have been created particularly rapidly in the US, where the green hiring rate exceeded the overall rate by 44% in June. This is doubtless partly attributable to the multi-billion-dollar Inflation Reduction Act, which is leading to steep growth in low-carbon sectors such as electric vehicle manufacturing, renewable energy, and hydrogen.

The UK’s peak green hiring rate also came in June, at 30% above the overall rate. Despite the UK Government’s pushback on its net-zero commitments for a ‘timely’ and ‘pragmatic’ approach, the demand for green jobs such as sustainability management, engineering and consulting has increased by 667% in the last four years in the nation. Even when considering the need to offset job losses as more carbon-intensive sectors change approaches, the UK is reportedly adding enough green jobs to counteract the shrinking job options in sectors such as oil and gas.

At a broader level, businesses across all sectors are introducing KPIs or sustainability metrics across different departments to help embed climate action. In short, the demand and necessity for green jobs has never been higher.

Digital considerations

Businesses are not only striving to become greener, but are also exploring how digitalisation can streamline operations, boost efficiencies and enhance competitiveness. The juncture between digital and green is therefore a key indicator for wider green growth demand amongst corporates.

New research this week from IBM and the Burning Glass Institute found that there is a rising demand for workers with digital skills in green sectors. The study outlines a 93% growth in demand for green skills over the last five years, based on job postings that listed both digital and green skills. These covered both office and industrial onsite settings.

The new whitepaper notes that “demand for sustainability solutions has created new opportunities for workers and driven new forms of green-focused work and created new blends of skills”.

As such, many roles not considered green are now integrating skills that are and these can have a “profound overall impact on an employee’s day-to-day tasks”, the whitepaper states. It cites an engineer expected to know more about energy efficiency while developing language models as one example.

The whitepaper highlights examples of water system operators introducing new metrics on resiliency to boost systems and how manufacturers can upskill staff to focus on waste prevention and reduction.

Disgruntled employees

While both growth and integration of green jobs and/or skills are necessary to ensure businesses have the knowledge, resources and capacity to reach their climate goals, there is a notion that some may be integrating sustainability knowledge, but not rewarding it.

new research from employee benefits technology company Zest, which surveyed more than 2,000 employees and 500 HR managers, has uncovered some discrepancies between corporate sustainability aspirations and the benefits packages also on offer for staff.

It found that just three in 10 employees currently believe that corporate benefit platforms support the needs of the individuals, with four in 10 stating that they want their company to invest in sustainable and accessible options as part of benefits packages.

On the HR front, 44% of businesses are now reporting an increase in the number of employees asking for sustainable benefits, and more than half now believe their workforce cares more about sustainability compared to the previous year.

Indeed, 51% of employees want to see their company invest more in sustainability. This rises to two-thirds of workers aged 18-34. Benefits include electric vehicles and sustainable pensions.

Failure to offer such benefits could have detrimental impacts on corporates. One-third of workers aged 18-34 currently do not believe that their organisation cares about sustainability, while 42% in that age bracket believe that failures to incentivise sustainability from the board negatively impact their morale at work.

There is a risk that while businesses upskill staff and increase their understanding of sustainability, they fail to appease a new-found appetite for solutions among workers. This could see corporates fail to retain and attract talent in the future.

Zest’s chief executive Matt Russell said: “It’s been a difficult few years for businesses, and the reality is that many – often not by choice – have been forced to put their sustainability initiatives on hold.

“Yet with the next generation increasingly populating the workforce, many of whom are naturally engaged in sustainability initiatives that will support their future, businesses must adapt to these changing demands. While many businesses will be focused on scope 1 and 2 emissions, a key area that can be overlooked in sustainability is benefits packages, for example, electric vehicle schemes or sustainable pension funds.”

Recent surveys from the Hiring Trends Index report, a quarterly survey of 1,011 human resources (HR) decision-makers conducted by Totaljobs, found that the majority of entry-level workers do not wish to associate with “unsustainable” brands.

It found that nearly 60% of Millennials say that they would avoid applying for jobs at companies that produce environmentally harmful products, and almost half of them are actively seeking opportunities with sustainable employers.

Additionally, 90% of employees believe their employers have a responsibility to contribute to environmental causes and would welcome sustainability-related restrictions, such as conducting business trips exclusively by train and implementing printing quotas.

Employees have grown more vocal in urging their employers to increase their efforts in addressing climate change, with one in three (36%) businesses admitting to receiving feedback from their workforce on their climate initiatives.

It appears that a green workforce is awakening and businesses can no longer just point to long-term targets to showcase what they’re doing. As sustainability is embedded across the workforce, it also needs to be embedded across the business, giving staff the chance to embrace low-carbon solutions and alternatives.

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