Women Weigh In: Factors that Most Determine Happiness at Work



Feb. 3 2016, Published 2:30 a.m. ET

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The age-old question: What do women want? At least in the workplace, the most recent answer is: One that is friendly towards women. Simple enough, right?

Fairygodboss, a website for professional women to anonymously review their employers, found women tend to feel a sense of professional well-being in an environment with pro-family policies and other women in leadership positions.

Respondents were asked to rate their job satisfaction on a scale of one to five, where five is the best. The data revealed that a generous maternity leave policy was the number one indicator of job satisfaction among women. Over sixty percent of the “five” ratings had twelve weeks or more maternity leave. Another important factor is fair treatment of both genders; meaning women are treated equally for promotions.

Additionally, seeing other females in management and promoting family-friendly values prompted higher ratings of employers. It is an indicator to women that there is “both opportunity and support for their careers” and personal lives. When we exclude maternity leave policies, the findings highlight women want to be recognized for their work, have a sense of work-life balance and feel that they can succeed.

“We see a high correlation between women’s job satisfaction and comments such as: There is virtually no pressure to work longer hours on a regular basis. Using all your vacation/paid time off …is also perfectly OK.” Female talent will seek these qualities out, which is something employers should keep in mind.

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While this breaking news does not directly translate to company policies, it brings us a step closer to understanding what keeps women happy at work. Fairygodboss notes, “For employers who are committed to improving the numbers and experiences of women in the workplace, it is essential to understand [these] factors.”

Fairygodboss is one of many efforts being made to close the gender pay gap and increase success for women in the workplace. Since its launch in March 2015, they have been called the “Glassdoor for women.” With more than 5,000 responses on their site, they tell us their community is made up of young and affluent women.

“Nearly 65 percent are Millennials and 73 percent of respondents report earning more than $50,000 per year in salary.”

Questions still remain about how each of these factors will keep women happier at work and what policies will make the workplace more equitable. Still, the research is turning up the volume on female voices. A fairer workplace may be closer than we think.

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