The Modern Definition of Success

The Modern Definition of Success

This post originally appeared on the Jane Dough.

A recent international study by LinkedIn was released last month in honor of International Women’s Day.

The study, called What Women Want at Work, was done in partnership with Cross-Tab Survey. 5,300 women in 13 countries were asked for their thoughts on what makes an ideal work environment.


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The results provides quite a bit of insight, both surprising and expected, about what employers can do to motivate and engage female employees. Three major themes became apparent from the results: how women define success is different now than it was just a few years ago, work-life balance has taken precedent over pay, and women are increasingly concerned about unclear career paths.

When asked about success at work, 80 percent of the women surveyed said a flexible work arrangement was critical to the success of future generations of women. 63 percent of respondents to the most recent survey said that success at work should be defined by the attainment of work/life balance. Five to ten years ago, only 39 percent named work/life balance as a priority for a successful career. Flexibility and time for a personal life have become the focus for this generation of professional women.

Five to ten years ago, 56 percent of women said that earning a high salary defined their success at work. Now, only 45 percent of the women asked thought a high-paying job was the definition of success. Perhaps the poor economy is the cause for this shift in women’s priorities. Whatever the case,  77% of women surveyed globally consider themselves to have a successful career.

When asked about their main concerns regarding their careers, 51% of women named “lack of a career path” as their main worry, while 47% said their biggest concern was “lack of investment in professional development.” Both of these indicate that businesses should not only be developing female leaders, but helping all employees, male and female, find their place within the business. Helping to mentor and guide an employee, and investing in them, will turn them into even greater assets for the companies they work for.

The results from this survey paint an interesting and even positive picture of modern women in the workplace. It seems that the definition of “having it all” has become less about pulling in six figures, and that achieving a balance between one’s personal and professional life is now considered true wealth. It’s about time we caught up! After all, the Dalai Lama reportedly gave this answer when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he replied:

"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

It seems that women around the world have come to the realization that richness of life is part of the true definition of wealth. Now we just have to get more employers to catch on.

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