Danielle Kopecky
27 October 2021

2021 Salary and Workplace Satisfaction Report: Key findings

Our biennial Salary and Workplace Satisfaction Report provides an insight into salary trends and job satisfaction across the environmental science sector. The report presents the findings of a recent survey of professional IES members to determine how salary is impacted by academic qualifications, professional experience and factors such as age, gender and ethnicity. An overview of the key findings is provided below. 

Salary over time

The median annual salary of respondents, after adjustment for inflation, was found to have fallen by 4% since 2010 (the first year that salary data was collected). This decrease is consistent with data published by ONS that shows that across the UK workforce median full-time earnings between 2010 and 2020, when adjusted for inflation, fell by 2.9%.

Salary by professional experience

As expected, as members progress to higher membership grades, median salary has been found to increase, with each successive membership grade representing an increase in median salary of around £15,000.

The value of chartership as a professional environmental scientist can also be expressed in salary terms – holding Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) status was found to relate to a median salary 38% higher than non-chartered members and holding Chartered Scientist (CSci) status to a median salary 32% higher than non-chartered members.

Salary by age, gender and ethnicity

As expected, median salary was found to increase with age, with the exception of a slight decrease in median salary over the age of 59. In almost all age brackets, male respondents were found to have a higher median salary than female respondents, excluding the under 25, 25-29 and 55-59 age brackets.

The gender pay gap, calculated as the difference between the median annual salary of male and female respondents, found in this year’s survey was 12.8%, a slight increase on the 2019 value of 12.7%. These results can be compared to the gender pay gap in the UK among all employees for 2020, reported by ONS and calculated as the difference between average hourly earnings, of 15.5%, falling to 7.4% for full-time employees.

In 2019, we introduced analysis on the ethnicity pay gap to the Salary and Workplace Satisfaction Report. The ethnicity pay gap found in this year’s survey – calculated as the difference in median annual salary of respondents who identify as White - English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British and respondents from all other ethnicities combined – was 12%, increasing from the 2019 figure of 2%. However, due to the small sample size for respondents identifying as ethnicities other than White - English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British this finding should be treated with caution. For comparison, the most recent ethnicity pay gap for England and Wales between White or White British and ethnic minority groups, published by the ONS in 2019 and calculated as the difference between hourly median earnings, was 2.3%.

Workplace satisfaction

Another addition to the survey in 2019, job satisfaction plays a vital role in the wellbeing of staff and is crucial in both staff performance and retention. Of all respondents surveyed, 82% reported that they find their work meaningful and 84% believe it is a positive contributor to society and/or the environment. Furthermore, 76% of respondents indicated that they plan to stay in their current sector, and 51% with their current organisation, for at least three years. A slightly smaller percentage of respondents (65%) reported being happy in their current job compared with 2019 (70%), potentially reflective of what has been dubbed the 'Great Resignation' – a global trend in unhappy employees leaving their current jobs.1 Reports have suggested that employee frustrations around furlough, reductions in benefits and being asked to return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic may be responsible.2 

To see the findings in more detail, read the full report (member only resource)

  1. BBC (2021) The Great Resignation: How employers drove workers to quithttps://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210629-the-great-resignation-how-... (Accessed: 27 October 2021).
  2. Personio (2021) Counting the Cost: How Businesses Risk a Post Pandemic Talent Drainhttps://hr.personio.de/hubfs/EN_Downloads/202104_HRStudy_UKI.pdf (Accessed: 27 October 2021).