What women really want in the workplace

multi-level marketing, diverse women talking, executive women on boardsAs the female employment rate in the UK reaches a record high of 71.4%*, attracting talent from this huge portion of the workforce – and keeping them happy – has never been more important.

But it’s going to take more than just equal pay (although that’s a great place to start).

Global digital partner and training provider Jellyfish surveyed 2,000 UK professionals to learn exactly what women want in the workplace and how this differs to men. Read on to find out more and discover what Jellyfish’s experts say employers and managers can do to ensure their work environment delivers.

Flexible working

Office yoga might be on the rise, but the flexibility women are most interested in has less to do with Downward-Facing Dog and more to do with downing tools (and picking them back up again) around a schedule that better suits them.

48% of the women surveyed said flexibility is one of the most important elements of a job – that’s 10% more than the men spoken to. While it might not come as a surprise that women value flexibility more than their male counterparts – due to many childcare responsibilities typically falling to women – are employers doing enough to give parents and non-parents the flexibility they want?

As Recruitment Director Genevieve Richens explains: “With more businesses realising the benefits of flexible working – such as a happier and loyal workforce – and upping their game in this area, those who don’t will find themselves lagging behind the competition when it comes to attracting and keeping talent; particularly women.”

Colleagues we can get along with

They say you can’t choose your family – and the same can be said for your work colleagues. So just how much does spending 7+ hours a day sat opposite Bob in Accounts and his obnoxiously smelling lunches impact a woman’s working life? Quite a bit; nearly half of those asked said colleagues are one of the most important factors to them.

But can employers do anything to help? Creative Director Emma Rose thinks so. “Managers should think carefully about their team culture when hiring new staff. That’s not to say everyone should be the same – a diverse workforce encourages cooperation, productivity and fun – but hiring someone who will clash with the rest of the team is going to cause friction.”

To feel cared about and respected

Aretha Franklin was onto something – 59% of the women surveyed strongly agreed that they want to feel respected by their employer and 52% want to feel cared about at work. Not groundbreaking news, but when we take into account that only 42% of men felt the same, we can see that feeling cared about is significantly more important to women than it is to our male counterparts.

So what does this mean in practice? “Making staff feel cared about isn’t complicated” says VP, Brand Planning Tania Barr. “It’s about showing people that they matter to you – that you’re interested in them – beyond what they bring to the business’ bottom line. It can be as simple as asking someone if they’re OK, actively listening to their answer – but also remembering what they told you, the next time you speak.”

Praise and recognition when it’s due

It might bring back memories of school, depending on how well-behaved you were as a student, but being acknowledged for a job well done has its place in the world of work, too – particularly for women, as 91% said praise and recognition are important to them.

VP, Client Management Yolande Battell believes this is probably one of the most important things to get right as a manager or employer. “Feedback is a huge part of how I work – both giving and receiving it. When you see an opportunity to have a positive impact, champion that person or team to encourage more of the same.”

A meaningful purpose

“Why am I here?” in this case is less of an existential question and more a desire to have meaning or purpose to what we do in the workplace. Given that we may invest 40+ years of our lives in our careers, it makes sense that we’d want to feel like what we’re doing is worthwhile.

No wonder then, that 90% of women surveyed said having a meaningful purpose is important to them. But what does it look like and how can employers and managers help their teams achieve it?

Chief Solutions Officer of Finance Lisa Vigorito thinks the answer lies in creating the right culture. “We need to give our people not just the ability to make positive change, but actively encourage it. Ensure that your team is in a position to influence and redefine the current standard – then help them develop the skills and confidence to do so.”

*Women and the Economy, Andrew Powell, 8 March 2019

Jenny Thompson headshotAbout the author

Jenny Thompson is a Senior Content Manager at Jellyfish, a global digital partner and training provider.

Founded in 2014, Jellyfish Training offers over 120 digital classroom and online training courses ranging from Digital Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Analytics to Cloud Technology, Cyber Security and Web Development.

As a Google certified training provider, Jellyfish has helped over 50,000 people from global corporates to small businesses, as well as non-profits, charities and government organisations to upskill their workforces.

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