Lucy Rowland
November 2023

Qualitative responses to the 2023 Salary and Workplace Satisfaction Survey

A photograph of a small green seedling emerging from a small pile of soil on top of a stack of pound coins.

We’ve got the headlines from the 2023 salary survey: salaries are up, but with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, the value of earnings has decreased. But what do our members really think about their environmental career experiences? 

Every two years, we conduct a survey of IES members, their salaries, and their experiences in the workplace. This allows us to build a picture of the current state of employment in the environmental sciences, and gives possible answers to a whole host of questions around gender and ethnicity pay gaps, other inequalities, the diversity of our members’ fields of work, and much more.  

Through close analysis of the data, we can assess changes in median salaries, demographics, and career experiences in comparison with previous surveys. This gives us valuable insight into both the day-to-day and long-term experiences of our members working in the environmental sector, and can help us find new ways to provide tailored support to our members. Through responding to members’ needs in a timely and targeted way, we can add value to the memberships and charterships of the IES, and offer our members important opportunities for career development. 

However, looking at wider trends in the data, while crucial, can mean missing out on some of the smaller – but still important – facets of work that affect our members' work lives. In this article, we’ll therefore be taking a closer look at some of the anonymised qualitative responses from the survey, and examining how these relate to the broader conclusions in the 2023 Salary and Workplace Satisfaction Report.  

Our members’ views on environmental careers 

We asked survey respondents to share their comments or opinions related to environmental careers, to get a sense of how people working in the sector view their profession and their future in the environmental sector. While there were several comments noting that individuals are happy in their careers and enjoy working in the sector, there were several comments expressing the desire for an overarching governing body for the sector, or a union.  

There was also some dissatisfaction reported with hiring processes in certain fields: one respondent pointed out the need for employers to openly share salary information in job adverts, rather than describing the salary as ‘competitive’.  

Other respondents noted that they have become frustrated with what they perceive as unfair structures perpetuated by the sector, with opaque practices in the promotion of colleagues. Several surveyed members noted that environmental professionals, particularly those working in the public sector, are not often given the recognition (in terms of salary and resources) that they need and deserve.  

Others remarked that environmental work is often conducted in small teams (or even alone) within large organisations, which can lead to some employees feeling ostracised or unsupported in their work. One respondent suggested that this could be improved by a greater focus on networking and collaboration for environmental professionals, and better opportunities for career development. 

The apparent reduction in academic courses for future careers in contaminated land is a concern expressed by some members, and another respondent noted that there are new and emerging disciplines that are not yet recognised by the environmental sector as a whole (e.g. external lighting design, and how this interacts with the natural environment and ecosystems). 

Responses to your comments: the survey

As the salary survey is conducted anonymously, unfortunately we can’t respond to all suggestions or queries individually. However, we’ve responded to a number of selected comments from the comments section of the survey below, about both the survey itself and environmental careers.

Responses to your comments: environmental careers

We apologise that we aren’t able to every comment and feedback in this article, however, all feedback is collated and reviewed by IES staff. Thank you once again for completing the survey and helping us to understand more about our members and their career experiences.