Gender pay gap and women’s career development are both big problems

When asked about what gets under the skin of many women employees, the answer came as a surprise. It is not the pay differential that bugs women, but the fact that men are valued more, and women are denied the opportunities to progress. This finding comes from Tony Latter of The Happiness Index. The way forward, says Tony, is to ensure that women are provided with better and more opportunities.

The unhappiness of female employees because of less career opportunities is as significant an issue as the gender pay gap. It is an issue which employers should be addressing. Regardless of company size and sector, women generally found that they did not feel valued in the workplace. They did not feel that they were seen in the same light as male colleagues.

When discussing the issue of female staff feeling less valued, this does not only consider pay. The wider picture is that women tend to feel unhappier at work than men. Taking this a step further, it suggests that concerns that women have are not being addressed. This is happening is the same way that pay levels were overlooked.

In a study done by the Happiness Indicator, a serious issue about career opportunity came to light. The Happiness Indicator uses 10 key factors to research happiness at work. The results showed that across all levels of seniority women rated their development opportunities as 5.8 out of 10. Cleary there is a sense of unhappiness which needs to be addressed.

In all the results of the study, men scored higher than women, meaning that they were more engaged and satisfied at work. Men interviewed stated that they needed higher wages and more opportunities for career development, while women focused on the need to be appreciated. They also wanted more communication and respect. Both male and female employees underlined the fact that they had a need to be valued.

Research has shown that the feeling of being valued was directly related to career progression. Promoting access to development is the fastest way for employers to improve happiness of women at work. Workers who feel valued and appreciated are far more likely to not only remain loyal to the company, but also to be more productive and work harder. They are more inclined to go above and beyond what is asked of them, knowing that they are valued.

The study went on to say that no one feels valued if their career is stagnation and personal goals not understood. The development of programmes to encourage people is important for all employees, and a culture of appreciation and recognition in the company will enhance relationships between staff.

One way to ensure that this happens is to meet frequently with staff to discuss agreed targets and set out a path to help them achieve their goals and develop their career paths. This personal contact will ensure that staff feel valued.

At such meetings employees should be able to air their own views and ideas, as well as their concerns. Employers should never assume that every staff member is happy and completely fulfilled. If this happens, then it is little wonder that ‘valued staff’ suddenly leave the company.

The study concluded by suggesting that company owners, directors, and HP leaders communicate regularly with staff, to find out what changes they would like to see in order for them to be happier in the workplace.

The study showed that there is still plenty of work to be done before companies would reap the benefits of a happier female workforce but starting with a clearer career path for female employees to follow is a good start.

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