The top 10 sustainability salary increases for the year ahead

6 min read | Paul Gosling | Article | Salary & pay Job searching Salary and pay Recruiting

top 10 sustainability salary increases

An impressive 85% of sustainability employers have increased their salaries over the last 12 months and nearly two-thirds have raised them by at least 2.5%. With more employers realising the importance of having a strong sustainability function, salaries for green roles have been on an upward trajectory this past year – one that’s expected to continue well into 2024.

We recently surveyed nearly 15,000 employers and employees across the country, including hundreds of sustainability professionals, for our annual Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends guide. The guide showcases not only a range of salaries across the sector, but also digs into key concerns around hiring challenges and industry trends across the whole of the UK.

Here, though, we’re addressing three key questions:

  • What’s driving salary inflation across the sustainability sector?
  • Which sustainability roles have seen the highest salary increases?
  • What are the hiring trends for the year ahead in sustainability?

 

The cost of living is driving up salaries

The recent hikes in living costs have been a primary factor for pay rises across nearly every industry, with 70% of all surveyed employers stating that the cost of living situation has driven up salaries in their organisation. 43% of sustainability staff say that rising living costs are a key catalyst for moving to a job that’s better paid in the next 12 months.

 

Sustainability employers are optimistic for the year ahead

With sustainability high on the corporate agenda this year, it’s not surprising that the average salary increase for sustainability roles – 6.3% – is considerably higher than the national average at just 3.5%. Hiring is set to continue at pace, with nearly nine in ten organisations planning on recruiting sustainability professionals in the next 12 months, namely due to an increased optimism among employers about the wider economic climate.

 

Skills shortages prevail in the sustainability sector

Nearly every sustainability organisation (94%) has experienced a shortage of key skills in the last year and this skills gap, along with talent retention, is the top challenge that employers are facing internally. 

"Sustainability organisations are struggling to attract and retain mid-level employees at the moment."

 

Sustainability organisations are struggling to attract and retain mid-level employees, with 57% saying that they’ve found it especially difficult to recruit for intermediate roles this year. This has led to pay increases for mid-level sustainability jobs that require both technical and interpersonal skills.

 

Significant pay rises for specialist sustainability roles

"In the public sector, there’s been a particular focus on social value this year and salaries have risen accordingly for professionals who specialise in this area."

 

Salaries for specialist sustainability jobs that incorporate elements of both strategy and delivery have seen significant increases in the past 12 months. The recent rise in energy costs has contributed to a notable change in the salaries for energy and carbon managers who can advise organisations on how to improve their energy efficiency. Sustainability consultants have also seen considerable pay increases this year, especially for mid-level professionals who can strategise and deliver what’s needed to reach agreed targets and goals. In the public sector, there’s been a particular focus on social value this year and salaries have risen accordingly for professionals who specialise in this area.

 

Top 10 sustainability roles boasting the highest salary increases this year:

1. Energy/carbon manager
2. Sustainability consultant
3. ESG specialist
4. Environment manager
5. Environmental consultant
6. Sustainability manager
7. Social value/CSR specialist
8. Environmental consultant (Early career)
9. Social value/CSR specialist (Early career)
10. ESG specialist (Early career)

 

Salaries are important to sustainability professionals, but they’re not the only consideration

Our research shows that 57% of sustainability employees are planning on moving jobs in the next 12 months, so what are they looking for in their next role? 

It’s clear that sustainability professionals want to balance purpose with practicality in the face of rising living costs, with many prioritising salaries and benefits packages over other factors. In order to attract talent in a skills-short market, sustainability organisations need to keep up with the latest salary and recruiting trends to ensure their offerings are competitive. It’s also important for employees to check their current salary before job hunting, so they can see what the industry average is for their role.

"Beyond salaries, sustainability staff are looking for an engaging and supportive team culture, as well as a clear commitment from their employer to environmental, social and governance (ESG)."

 

However, beyond salaries, sustainability staff are looking for an engaging and supportive team culture, as well as a clear commitment from their employer to environmental, social and governance (ESG). Organisations must showcase these elements during their recruitment and onboarding processes, to ensure they’re not missing out on the top sustainability professionals.

Take a look at our UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2024 guide for more details on the industry insights and salary trends that will shape the sustainability sector in the year ahead.
 

About this author

Paul Gosling, National Director for Sustainability Recruitment, Hays

Paul has been a specialist recruiter in environment and sustainability for over 25 years. He started recruiting into the sector in 1995 after finishing his BSc in Environmental Science and he’s worked with thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies over the past 20-plus years to support their growth and development in this dynamic and critically important sector.

During this time, Paul has built a wealth of knowledge and he’s recognised as a leading expert on overcoming the unique recruitment challenges facing the environment and sustainability sector.

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