Accenture has published new research, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, revealing that while less than half of people are satisfied at work, nearly three quarters plan to stay with their current employer.
Speaking about the survey of 3,400 professionals from almost 30 countries, Fiona O’Hara, human capital and diversity lead for the UK and Ireland at the professional services firm, admitted she was “surprised at the levels of dissatisfaction”.
Only 43 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men are satisfied with their current jobs, she explained. “The most popular reasons cited, in fairly equal numbers by men and women, were being underpaid, having no opportunity for career advancement and feeling trapped,” she told me.
Women were also 4 per cent less likely to have asked for a pay rise and 11 per cent less likely to have asked for a promotion. “I think this chimes with what we know about gender differences,” Ms O’Hara continued. ”Women approach career progression more cautiously, wanting to be 95 per cent qualified for a new promotion, while a man will seek the next step without needing that degree of certainty.”
At the same time – perhaps reflecting economic uncertainty – almost three-quarters of respondents planned to stay with their current company, with 70 per cent of women and 69 per cent of men proposing to remains with their existing employer.
“The research shows that employers have a huge opportunity to sit down with their staff and find out what really drives them and to regroup and realign ambitions with opportunities. Big organisations … have the flexibility to offer different career paths and to re-engage people. It is a much better move than to lose people and have the expense and disruption of recruitment and onboarding new staff.”
No less interesting was the fact that fewer than one-third of respondents from both groups (32 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men) reported that they had either a formal or informal mentor.
“It was revealing that under a third of respondents reported having a formal or informal mentor. Mentoring, sponsorship and coaching are inexpensive and key ways that employers can engage employees and help them move up the organisation. At Accenture we have a heavy emphasis on mentoring that we know works, perhaps especially with women.
“Big corporates have a responsibility through counselling, performance reviews and sponsorship to train and skill-up women for promotion. I don’t believe in quotas, women must get there on merit and ability. But unless companies provide senior role models they are missing a trick, and will not be maximising growth opportunities by fully harnessing the talents of all their staff.
“Companies need to see how they can make work more challenging and interesting, ensure flexible working offers staff an opportunity to balance work and other commitments and provide leadership positions to both men and women in their organisations.”