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O'Hara: New Ways of Working for a New Working Woman

Experience tells us that when employees are unhappy they look for new jobs. But what if that’s no longer true? What if, for a variety of reasons, dissatisfied employees are staying with their companies?

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New research from Accenture found that to be the case, particularly with women. Looking ahead to International Women's Day, we fielded research of more than 3,400 professionals in 29 countriesand found that despite more than half of female business professionals being dissatisfied with their jobs, 70 percent plan to stay with their companies.

It doesn’t stop there. The research also found that training and networking programs are scarce for women, that they are less likely to ask for a raise or a promotion, they have less ambition to reach the C-level, and that their careers are not fast-tracked compared with men.

In the UK, women in the workplace have been top of mind following Lord Davies’ review, calling for "radical change" in businesses to ensure talented and gifted women are not overlooked for senior roles. This, in turn, highlights the ongoing need for women to receive the necessary support, training and encouragement from their employers to aid career progression and climb the career ladder.

This is particularly important as it seems women are not deciding to move on from their current jobs. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, they are looking for new opportunities to grow and thrive, opting to enrich their careers where they are right now.

For example, 59 percent of women this year will work on developing their knowledge or a skill set to achieve their career objectives, as opposed to looking for another alternative altogether.

Executives should view the insights emerging from this research as an opportunity to engage their employees and help them become more successful. As women 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.

Leading companies will seize the opportunity and take simple steps to engage their employees and help them become more successful. A good place to start is to listen.

It’s important to pay attention to concerns women in the company may have to avoid making assumptions, and to encourage executives and managers to have conversations with those looking to get ahead. This will give you ample insight into what steps need to be taken in order to motivate those who may be unhappy, and provide support where needed.

There are various actions you could take in light of these conversations. Today’s professionals are focused on developing their skill sets and seek the training, the resources and the people that can help them achieve their goals. Consider things like leadership development experiences or flexible and mobile working. The latter could be particularly useful for women who are juggling their career and a busy family life too.

Events like International Women’s Day can also engage employees, generate feedback and offer opportunities for networking and development. All of these things can help to foster a culture of mentoring and creating diverse teams which will help women who may not currently feel they are being given the tools to succeed.

Dealing with employee dissatisfaction is never easy, but today, employers are navigating a new environment and success demands that everyone view challenges and opportunities through a new lens. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that women across the globe are looking to their own organizations to provide them with the tools to grow and thrive, and companies that come out best will be those who forge new ways of working internally that will make the best use of their talent.

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The author is the Human Capital and Diversity Lead for UK & Ireland at Accenture.

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