Attracting and retaining top talent in the green industry

learning and development sales training workshop for teams working in the green sector

Attracting and retaining top talent is crucial to the success of companies that are committed to making a positive impact on the environment. The current economic climate (post-Covid-19, post-Brexit, plus war in Ukraine), plus spiralling business costs are posing a number of recruitment challenges for businesses, making the recruitment process difficult and expensive:

  • Labour shortages
  • Upskilling costs
  • Fierce competition for talent
  • Higher wage expectations because of the rising cost of living
  • Emphasis on well-being in the workplace
  • Need to offer flexible working patterns, including working from home

In spite of a challenging labour market, there is an upside for the green industry. In 2019, a Totaljobs survey (of 2,000 employees and 250 decision-makers), found that 28% of workers said that they would consider leaving their current employment to work for a more environmentally friendly company. The figure was even higher amongst younger workers, at 50% for those aged 23-38. Moreover, 26% would be willing to take a salary hit to work for a firm that could demonstrate its commitment to the environment with an average pay cut of £8,100 per annum. 

This research indicates that there is an opportunity for the green industry to attract top talent. In this article we will explore some practical strategies companies can implement to ensure that an environmental ethos and social conscience are at the heart of their organisation’s mission and values:

  • Build a strong employer brand
  • Invest in employee development
  • Create a positive work culture

With these core principles at the heart of the recruitment process, organisations can attract high-calibre candidates and improve talent management.

At wayvie, we recognise that there is a skills gap in today’s recruitment market. We aim to close this gap by providing employee development courses to help companies smash their sustainability and business goals. Contact the wayvie team today for a free consultation about how we can equip your team with the soft skills and confidence they need to tackle eco-challenges, helping you to attain your sustainability targets.

Building a strong employer brand

Building a positive reputation can provide recruitment benefits:

  • Attracting high-calibre applicants for vacant positions
  • Retaining existing talent
  • Saving time and recruitment costs

A recent PWC the Future of Work survey, shows that workers care about the environment and want to work for companies that embrace sustainability, especially when aligned with a social conscience. Therefore, organisations seeking top talent in the green industry need to ensure that a strong employer brand rests on a commitment to reduce its impact on the environment, a philosophy that will echo the values and concerns of the talent pool.

Don’t greenwash!

Companies need to be honest about their sustainability pledges by making sure that progress against emissions targets is measured and verified, avoiding misleading statements, generalisations and greenwashing. Potential employees are seeking companies that take concrete actions and will see through any attempt to ‘fudge’ figures to make a company seem more environmentally conscious than it is. 


Communication is key. Promoting green credentials has in the past been a secondary concern for organisations, an ‘add on’ to the company message requiring separate communications, webpages etc. Companies need to create a compelling message about how they are reducing their environmental impact across all communications. Commitment to environmental, social and governance goals (ESG), should be prioritised as company philosophy from the Board level down and be part of the mission statement and company values. 

Company culture is influenced by:

  • Strong leaders taking action
  • Leaders being seen to take action
  • Clear communication of the actions taken against ESG goals  

Recruitment Strategy

Putting the company’s ESG philosophy at the heart of a recruitment process will have a positive effect on the attraction and retention of top talent. Making the HR department greener will permeate through the recruitment process and internal activities. Including environmental actions in job descriptions, shows candidates how they will contribute through their role, giving them confidence that their prospective employer cares about its impact on workers and the wider environment.

Encouraging employees to adopt sustainable practices both at work and at home through leading by example, encouragement and effective training will have a lasting impact on lives, fostering employee loyalty and retention.

Investing in employee development

Another way to attract and retain talent is to invest in employee development. Top talent who may be interested in upskilling or career progression will be attracted to companies providing training programmes. In addition, training employees about sustainability and how it affects every role can encourage workers to make improvements reflected by progress against eco-targets. 

Investing in training can offer high returns for both employers and employees:

  • Better talent retention because employees feet nurtured and valued
  • Job stability/career progression
  • Closing skills gaps
  • Provides motivation 
  • Improves processes to boost productivity
  • Addresses talent shortages
  • Promotes a continuous learning culture

Apprenticeships provide employers with the opportunity to widen the talent pool to incorporate younger candidates. The education, mentorship and on-the-job training provided in these roles will help to attract younger talent, bridging the generation gap and inspiring them to pursue a career within the green industry.

A Business Case – Patagonia

This activewear company’s philosophy is “100% for the Planet”, with a commitment to creating a positive benefit in every life touched by their business. Their initiatives include:

  • Repair centres to prolong the life of their products, 
  • ‘Enviro Day’s for new employees to learn about regenerative agriculture as part of their mission
  • ‘Zero Waste’ week
  • Embedding a culture of energy reduction 
  • Transport initiatives e.g. ride and share, cycle to work etc.

Because employees are fully immersed in a culture of sustainability from the start, Patagonia attracts talented individuals that already have comparative values. A 2020 article in Forbes reported that the company received 9,000 applications for each internship position and it was rated as a great place to work by 91% of employees in a 2019 survey by Great Place to Work, compared to 57% in a typical US-based company.)

A Business Case – Starbucks

Known as a company with a conscience, Starbucks has built a strong employer brand by focusing on green ethics and encouraging respect and dignity in the workplace with initiatives such as:

  • Reusable cups introduced in 2013
  • Customers encouraged to use their own mugs 
  • 100% ethically sourced coffee
  • Pledged support to coffee plantation owners suffering loss through environmental factors

Starbucks has expressed its philosophy of caring for the environment, employees and the customer experience across all communications channels, including social media platforms.

You can read about more strong employer brands in the green industry in this blog from Green Citizen.

A Business Case – PepsiCo

PepsiCo may not be as big as Coca-Cola in the drinks industry, but it beats its rival for sustainability. It believes that investing in education leads to more opportunities for its employees and pledges to provide meaningful jobs that “offer growth opportunities to everyone at every stage.” Top-level management leads by example and the company offers access to higher education and flexible training via a resource that includes videos, podcasts, articles, blogs and job aids.

Attracting and retaining top talent in the green industry was written by

Jennifer Keay

Jen is our dedicated Training Administrator with extensive experience in HR and people development roles. She’s passionate about helping individuals grow and works tirelessly to support the entire team at wayvie in delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Jen Keay

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