According to a new Gallup Poll, 700 million people or 70 percent of full-time workers, do not feel engaged or emotionally connected at work. That is a staggering number. But of the percentage that do not just go through the motions at work, guess who usually falls into that group? Women!
The poll found that 33 percent of women feel actively engaged, versus 28 percent of men. It also found that of the 39 percent of employees that work off-site, these people are slightly more engaged (32 percent) than their on-site-full-time counterparts (28 percent). “Pretty impressive considering we make less than men and have a harder time getting promoted than our male colleagues. Yet we actually enjoy our jobs more and care about the work we are doing. Are you listening employers?
The poll didn’t have an explicit reason for why women are more engaged, but it did find that people who often telecommute or work off-site are happier than their coworkers that work in the on-site full time. The ability to work flexibly and maybe work around family obligations makes people happier and therefore happier at their jobs.
This isn’t the first study to show that flexible working arrangements make for happier employees and therefore better companies. Flexible work arrangements can also reduce absences and company turnover, which, according to a 2010 report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, contributes to overall better production. As the number of highly-educated women entering the workforce increases, there will be more demand for them to have flexibility in their hours as they start families. Young professionals starting out in businesses are also pushing for more unconventional hours.
However, some businesses just won’t budge when it comes to these kind of arrangements and maintain a stigma around workplace flexibility. For example, we are seeing a drop off in female law associates. Due to billable hours and daily time sheets, law allows for almost no flexibility, which is tough for any woman that wants to have a family. Yet law firms may benefit from flexible work as it almost always brings benefits to the business through increased employee commitment and productivity, reductions in staff turnover and training costs, and a greater ability to respond to customer requirements. One U.S. study now estimates the cost of replacing a second year associate to be $200,000. Firms may want to reconsider.
It really comes down to the fact that when a workplace supports you, whether you are male or female, in making your life better, you are in turn going to produce better. Everyone benefits from that.