What Do Women Really Want at Work?

women at work[Click for full size infographic]

What do women really want?

Sigmund Freud couldn’t figure it out, but LinkedIn tried to in its recent survey, “What Women Want @Work.” Here’s what the poll of more than 400 working women aged 18 to 65 uncovered.

Women at Work: What Do They Really Want?

Women Value Work-Life Balance

In fact, it’s the number one factor in whether women at work feel successful or not. Sixty percent of the working women surveyed define “career success” as being able to have work-life balance. (Which is interesting, since I think that’s an unachievable goal).

That’s nearly twice the percentage who defined success that way five to 10 years ago.

Women Believe They Can Achieve Work-Life Balance

Nearly 80 percent of women in the survey are confident about the ability to “have it all” – including a fulfilling career, a relationship and children. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of women without children do not think starting a family would hinder their careers or slow their advancement.

Of course, that’s easy to say when you don’t actually have children. Overall, 39 percent admit that juggling work and family is a career challenge. (Maybe those are the women who have children.)

To help with this challenge, women would like more work flexibility.

Two-Thirds Would Like Greater Flexibility at Work

In fact, flexible work arrangements were more likely to be cited as attributes of a good employer than was “good remuneration/pay.” Women at work also say a flexible work environment will be the single most important factor determining the success of the next generation of women.

In comparison to flexibility and work-life balance, salary matters less. Just 44 percent of women say salary is the most important measure of professional success, compared to 62 percent who claimed it was their most important yardstick five to 10 years ago.

What do these results mean for your business?

While flexible work and work-life balance clearly mean a lot to women, a wide range of studies have shown how much employees of all types value these options. Whether your workforce is mostly young men, middle-aged moms or a mix of all ages and lifestyles, you really can’t go wrong by offering more choices. This could include:

  • Remote work
  • Virtual work
  • Flexible scheduling
  • General paid time off versus clearly defined vacation and sick leave
  • Job sharing
  • Part-time work
  • Temporary work

One thing you shouldn’t treat this study as, however, is an excuse to pay women less in return for flexible work. While you may be able to pay less for jobs that offer flexible schedules, you certainly can’t make pay contingent on someone’s gender, marital or parental status.

In fact, 58 percent of women in the survey believe “unequal pay” is still a major stumbling block for women in the workplace.

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.