Monday Business Feature: Despite Low Job Satisfaction, Employees Unlikely to Seek New Jobs

Unhappy or not, employees prefer to create opportunities with current employers; Accenture research shows that women and men around the globe share similar career perspectives

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New York — March 28, 2011 — More than half of female business professionals around the world — and a similar percentage of their male counterparts — report that they are dissatisfied with their jobs. At the same time, however, a significant number plan to stay with their companies and create new opportunities, according to new research from Accenture.

The research, which surveyed more than 3,400 professionals in 29 countries, compared responses of equal numbers of women and men and found that fewer than half (43 percent of women and 42 percent of men) of all respondents are satisfied with their current jobs, but nearly three-quarters (70 percent of women and 69percent of men) plan to stay with their companies.

Released earlier this month as part of Accenture's 2011 celebration of International Women's Day (March 8), the research also found that the top reasons for respondents' dissatisfaction are: being underpaid (cited by 47 percent of women versus 44 percent of men); a lack of opportunity for growth (36 percent versus 32 percent); no opportunity for career advancement (33 percent versus 34 percent); and feeling trapped (29 percent versus 32 percent).

Despite this, more than half of respondents (59 percent of women and 57 percent of men), say that this year, in an effort to enhance their careers, they will work on developing their knowledge and/or a skill set to achieve their career objectives.

"We're seeing an unanticipated workplace dynamic," said Adrian Lajtha, chief leadership officer at Accenture. "Today's professionals are not job hunting, despite expressing dissatisfaction. Instead, they are focused on their skill sets and on seeking the training, the resources and the people that can help them achieve their goals. Leading companies should support these efforts by listening to employees and providing them with innovative training, leadership development and clearly defined career paths."

Gender Perspectives

The survey found that responses to a number of questions were similar among women and men. For example:

  • Women overall were somewhat less likely than men to say they have asked for pay raises (44 percent versus 48 percent) and promotions (28 percent versus 39 percent).
  • Fewer than one-third of respondents from both groups (32 percent of women and 31 percent of men) report that they have a formal or informal mentor.
  • While more than half of respondents (55 percent of women and 57 percent of men) are satisfied with the career levels they've reached, more women report that their careers are not fast-tracked (63 percent of women versus 55 percent of men). At the same time, fewer women say they aim to reach C-level or equivalent positions (14 percent versus 22 percent).
  • When asked about factors that help women advance in their organizations, more than two-thirds of women (68 percent) but only about half of men (55 percent) cited hard work and long hours.
  • Among top factors that would make respondents want to pursue career advancement, women and men cited better compensation (65 percent versus 67 percent); new, challenging assignments (44 percent versus 48 percent); flexible work arrangements (39 percent versus 34 percent); and leadership positions within their companies (22 percent versus 28 percent).

"Executives should view the insights emerging from this research as an opportunity to engage their employees and help them become more successful," commented Nellie Borrero, inclusion and diversity lead at Accenture. "As those employees look to reinvent opportunity, companies can help them by creating a culture of mentoring, developing diverse teams that provide new experiences and offering volunteer opportunities that engage their people and expand employee networks."

Generational Differences

The research also identified differences among generations, particularly in terms of mentors. Just one-quarter (25 percent) of Baby Boomer respondents (those born before 1964) worked with a mentor, compared with 32 percent of Generation X respondents (those born between 1965 and 1978) and 37 percent of Generation Y respondents (those born after 1979). Of these respondents, having a mentor help plan career moves was most popular among Generation X, compared to Baby Boomers or Generation Y (reported by 51 percent, 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively).

Additionally, while all groups cited higher pay as the top reason for pursuing career advancement, the youngest participants — Generation Y — were significantly more motivated by pay than Generation X respondents or Baby Boomers (cited by 73 percent, 67 percent and 58 percent, respectively).

For the research, in November 2010 Accenture conducted an online survey of 3,400 business executives from medium to large organizations across 29 countries.. A minimum of one hundred respondents from each country participated, with the exception of Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Finland, where the combined number of respondents totaled 100.

Respondents were split evenly by gender and were balanced by age and level in their organizations. The margin of error for the total sample was approximately +/- 2 percent. A full report on the research, "Reinvent Opportunity: Looking Through a New Lens," is available here.

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