Attracting talent: the surprising influence of ESG strategies on recruitment

In 2022, pay and traditional perks aren't the only way to lure the best people to your company, as a new survey reveals.

Yugi the Giraffe - 4 August 2022

It's natural to assume UK workers care about environmental and social issues. But how much of a role do they expect their employer to play? And how much will that influence who they work for, and how motivated they are in that role?

A new survey by YuLife reveals employee sentiment on  ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) – and highlights its link to a company's success in 2022.

Here are key findings from the YuLife YouGov 2022 survey, and what insights it gives on recruitment, retention and employee wellness.

ESG effects on recruitment

The YuLife survey suggests that environment and social issues are highly important to the people you're trying to hire in 2022.

Over a third of UK working adults (37%) say they'd steer clear of a company with poor green credentials, with that figure rising to 42% amongst 18- to 24-year-olds.

Conversely, 42% of all adults would be more likely to work for a company with environmental initiatives such as a recycling programme, sustainable products and packaging, or a walk-to-work scheme. Only 16% say these things would not encourage them to apply.

And there's more. When asked to imagine working for a company that's investing in causes to tackle climate change and environmental issues, UK workers grow even more enthusiastic. A huge 62% say it would make them think more positively about their company. Only 1% of women and 4% of men would view them negatively.

In short, a solid ESG strategy is likely to put your company ahead of the pack when it comes to attracting the freshest young faces to your workforce. Because according to the YuLife survey, most firms are failing in this area.

Almost one in five (19%) do not believe their workplace makes a positive impact on society and the planet. And that figure jumps to 75 per cent when it comes to 18- to 24-year-olds.

That's a huge problem for the corporate world as a whole, not to mention the world in general. But it's also a huge opportunity for outliers in this area, who can steal the best talent from even bigger and higher-paying rivals as a result.

Influence on behaviour

The benefits of strong ESG policies don't, of course, just lie in recruitment. The survey also found that by promoting certain activities that are good for the environment and society as a whole, companies can also promote better wellbeing and happiness amongst their workforce.

Respondents, for example, gave a strong vote of confidence in the idea of companies encouraging volunteering. Over half (52%) of UK working adults feel it would enhance their sense of physical and/or mental wellbeing if their employer took them away from work to volunteer on a regular, fixed basis. Only 4% strongly disagreed with this statement.

It's clear, too, that workers are looking to their employer to lead in this area. A majority (53%) of UK working adults say they'd be more likely to volunteer for causes if their workplace arranged it for them. This figure rises to 60% among 18- to 24-year-olds, and 66% among 25- to 34-year-olds.

Plus doing so, the survey findings suggest, should lead to a happier and more motivated staff. Because a huge 66% of UK working adults agree that volunteering positively impacts wellbeing; rising to 73% among females.

Commuting to work

There are other areas, too, where employees are keen for their workplace to drive their personal behaviour.

For instance, 51% of UK working adults believe they'd be more likely to commute using environmentally friendly means of transport, such as walking or cycling, if their employer incentivised them to do so. That rises to 56% among 35- to 44-year-olds, and 62% among 25- to 34-year-olds.

And this isn't just about pure, financial self-interest. When asked if offered the opportunity to earn rewards with a monetary equivalent value from an employer, in exchange for undertaking wellbeing activities such as walking, running, cycling or meditating, 51% would be willing to donate part of those rewards to social, charitable or environmental causes, rather than keeping the cash themselves. This figure rises to 57% among 35- to 44-year-olds.

Procurement and investments

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. And so, while UK workers are ready to change their own behaviour, they're also keen to see their employer do their bit to help with environmental and social issues.

For example, over half (56%) of UK working adults believe it's important their company buys products and services from diverse and sustainable brands. That figure rises to 63% among females, and only 10% disagree with this statement.

When it comes to corporate donations, local community projects (34%) are the most favoured cause for people's workplace to donate to, with climate change causes coming second (17%). Finally, 44% of UK working adults also believe it's important to have a say in the causes their company invests in. This rises to 48% among 25- to 34-year-olds, and 51% among 18- to 24-year-olds.


These 2022 Q2 survey results couldn't be clearer. Workers are not purely motivated by pay, and this societal shift is important for employers to understand. During the era of 'The Great Resignation', when a post-pandemic public is reconsidering its priorities in terms of work-life balance, and even the biggest firms are struggling to recruit the best people, the ability to listen to employee sentiment is key to creating a motivated and enthusiastic workforce.

These survey findings make official what many were already sensing. Namely, that ESG strategy isn't a board-level box-ticking exercise, it's increasingly central to hiring and motivating staff, and thus ultimately to the success of the company.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2093 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 14th June 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

In our latest eBook, we hear from experts to dive deeper into the strong business case for Environmental, Social Governance initiatives in 2022, and how YuLife can support businesses of all sizes with their ESG strategy. Download it here.

Yugi the Giraffe

Yugi is our YuLife mascot. Like all giraffes they've got a big heart – in fact the biggest heart of all land animals.