Women are happier and more engaged at work than men, despite the gender pay gap

Following the deadline for organisations to publish their gender pay this week, it came as little surprise to find that almost eight in 10 organisations pay men more than women. The debate over the reasons why will continue, but new research now claims that women remain happier and more committed at work than men, despite this disparity. Employee benefits provider Personal Group’s Gender Happiness Gap research shows that contrary to, and perhaps in spite of the fact that the Gender Pay Gap tends to favour men, happiness at work tends to fall in favour of female staff, with men much less happy in the workplace than their female counterparts. Whilst 77 percent of PAYE female employees are happy at work at least some of the time, the figure is only 66 percent for men. This means that one in three men are rarely or never happy at work. The case is similar when looking at the total workforce: 45 percent of female staff stated that they’re happy most of the time at work, versus only 38 percent of male staff. Amongst women, the 30-49-year-old age group is the unhappiest age group, which may be due to juggling family life alongside working commitments.

Enthusiasm at work increases with seniority for both genders, but in a similar way that the gender pay gap compounds as an employee’s career progresses – as does the enthusiasm gap. 37 percent of frontline female employees report feeling enthusiastic about work often / most of the time versus only 30 percent of male frontline employees. By the time women reach the top of their organisation, as directors or company owners, 70 percent are enthusiastic about their job often / most of the time, versus only half of male company owners and directors.

Mark Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer at Personal Group said: “We all want a more a productive workforce, one that reflects the customers we serve and the communities we are a part of. To do this, it is important to create a more gender balanced and diverse working environment for employees.

“The results of our survey are worrying to say the least. The fact that so many employees rarely or never feel happy at work shows that many businesses are doing something very wrong and are likely suffering the consequences in lost productivity, something which is evident when looking at the results around efficiency. The results make it clear that more money doesn’t result in greater workplace happiness, so the real question is: how can we close this happiness gap and increase overall employee productivity?

“Ultimately, closing both the gender pay gap and the gender happiness gap will require businesses to create a long-term strategy of internal changes, senior management buy-in, education, an open attitude to ask the difficult questions and the positive action to act upon the answers received. Businesses need to fundamentally change the way they write job advertisements, the language they use and what initiatives can be implemented to aid workplace progression and ultimately change the way they think.

“There’s no quick fix for the unconscious bias that has become so ingrained some company cultures, but the steps taken to aid its reduction and elimination will undoubtedly leave the UK with a happier, more engaged, more productive workforce, regardless of gender.”

Key highlights from the research include:

Happiness in the workplace

  • 45 percent of female staff are happy most of the time / often versus only 38 percent of men.
  • The unhappiest women by age group are 30-49-year olds with 1 in 4 saying they never or rarely feel happy at work.
  • Men appear to be unhappy at work irrespective of age, with 1 in 3 across all age ranges never or rarely feeling happy at work.
  • Over a third of PAYE men are rarely or never happy at work, whereas under a quarter of PAYE women feel the same.

 Enthusiasm about your job

  • Women appear to naturally more enthusiastic about their work with more women than men reporting that they are enthusiastic about their job most of the time (44 percent women versus only 35 percent men).
  • 37 percent of frontline female employees reporting feeling enthusiastic about work often / most of the time versus only 30 percent of male frontline employees.
  • By the time women reach the top of their organisation as director or company owner 70 percent are enthusiastic about their job often / most of the time, versus only half of male company owners and directors.

 Proud of what you do

  • 100 percent of female contractors felt proud of what they do at least some of the time, in stark contrast to only 60 percent of male contractors feeling the same.
  • Women feel more pride in what they do at work versus men, irrespective of age and employment type (employed, contracting or self-employed).
  • Male pride in their work appears to increase with seniority in the business, with 14 percent more managers and team leaders feeling pride in their work often / most of the time versus male frontline employees. Whereas female pride in their work remains steady regardless of whether they are a manager or frontline employee.

Feeling your job is important and worthwhile

  • 95 percent of professional women feel their job is important and worthwhile at least some of the time (with 72 percent feeling this often / most of the time). In contrast, only 78 percent of male professionals feel their job is worthwhile at least some of the time (with less than half feeling their job is important and worthwhile often / most of the time).
  • More than half (60 percent) of male contractors rarely or almost never feel their job is important or worthwhile, versus only 17 percent of female contractors.

Working as efficiently as possible

  • At first glance both genders seem to feel similarly about their efficiency at work, with 50 percent men and 53 percent women feeling they are working as efficiently as possible often / most of the time.
  • However as both genders move into more senior positions, their view on how efficiently they are working begins to diverge. With 1 in 3 male senior managers and department heads saying they never or rarely feel they are working as efficiently as possible, versus only 1 in 4 female senior managers and department heads saying the same.
  • 73 percent of male frontline employees feel they are working efficiently at least some of the time, while 84 percent of female frontline employees feel they are working efficiently at least some of the time.

The research surveyed over 1200 UK employees about their happiness, enthusiasm, pride, and efficiency at work.

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