About 49% of men and 46% of women don’t think they’re being sufficiently challenged in their current roles, according to new research by consultancy Accenture. And it’s not because they don’t have their skills, apparently: 76% said they were confident they had what it took. All of which suggests, says Accenture, that companies just aren’t making the most of their current talent. Not exactly ideal when the economy’s in its current state.
The research was released to celebrate International Women’s Day, and it contained some interesting findings about the fairer sex. 47% of women said they were stretching themselves beyond their comfort zone, compared to a measly 28% of men – which either means men are lazier, or women are more easily discomfited, depending on your point of view. In the UK, women were also more likely to ask for new challenges than men – which again, either means that they’re more career-minded, or that they’re being badly managed (and thus are only challenged when they ask for it).
Of course, it’s always hard to generalise across an entire gender, since some women obviously think about work very differently to others. For instance, 60% of female respondents described their careers as ‘successful’ or ‘very successful’ – but those in the latter camp were noticeably more ambitious: 78% were willing to consider moving jobs, while 75% said they regularly push themselves beyond their comfort zone.
So what can firms do to develop their people better? Well, one under-exploited area seems to be mentoring. Women identified all sorts of benefits a mentor can offer – helping them think differently, recognising their skills, building their confidence and so on – yet a measly 14% said they had a formal mentor at work. Perhaps it’s time to try and get your senior staff to try and shake a bit of stardust onto those below them in the food chain (an approach the Prime Minister seems to be pursuing in the US this week).
One unheralded stat in the research also piqued our interest: apparently about half of the survey respondents don’t feel secure about their job prospects (a proportion that seems to be pretty constant across all age ranges). Obviously the economic situation is the biggest reason for that – but a little more energy invested in development might ease a few nerves...
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