Can’t get no (job) satisfaction

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.”

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Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.