Female Employee Must-Haves

What Female Employees Really Want in the Workplace

This is not the 1960s, but it’s difficult to convince many female employees who function within outdated corporate Human Resources policies. The policies read like a military manifesto by describing rigid schedules and failing to mention recognition and reward systems or establishing promotion policies favoring men. The HR policies form the unforgiving backbone of an organizational culture that disengages the modern woman, even as the organization struggles to understand why it cannot meet gender diversity workforce goals, has difficulty with recruiting and hiring talented and skilled women and is challenged with low female employee retention rates.

Tale of Two Worlds

Gallup data found that 48 percent of female employees say they are actively looking for a different job or watching for new opportunities. Though 73.5 million women over the age of 16 are working, they’re often caught between two opposing worlds. In one, she’s viewed as capable of career success and managing work and family. In the other, she’s criticized for denying her children a full-time mother to pursue a career. For the majority of women, it’s children who have the most influence, so the ability to achieve work-life balance is a major determinant of happiness.

A Matter of Importance

As a business leader, you are challenged with finding ways to make the workplace engaging to female employees by developing an inclusive culture, implementing HR best practices and recognizing and addressing issues of importance. Following is a list of what female employees desire in the workplace to find happiness.

Supportive Culture

The workplace culture influences gender diversity because it impacts talent management practices, interactions with co-workers and managers and career opportunities. A positive culture encourages employees to assist each other and to treat each other with integrity. It emphasizes the meaningfulness of work. For female employees, all the characteristics of a positive workplace culture inspire what they want – respect, compassion and positive relationships.


Talented women need a voice in the workplace because they’re still overcoming biases holding them back from advancing. Traditionally, men worked their way up the corporate ladder to assume senior leadership positions. Historically, women were not hired for higher-paying jobs and are still not fully included in succession planning and career planning, keeping them out of the loop for promotions into leadership positions.

Mentoring experienced and newly hired women gives them organizational visibility and access to decision-makers. A Global Strategy Group study sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation found that only 34 percent of the women surveyed believed their workplace put a high priority on having women in leadership positions. A lack of support from mentors for career advancement and lack of access to career-building personal connections keep women from advancing.

Recognition and Reward 

Properly structured work benefits and perks are important to engaging all employees. Raising the profile of talented women in your organization through a strong recognition and reward system is a success strategy. Implementing a rewards and recognition program enables your co-workers and managers to recognize exceptional effort, innovative ideas, team contributions and leadership.

Family-Friendly Work-Life Balance Policies

A Fairygodboss survey of women attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland found a correlation between the number of weeks of maternity leave allowed and job satisfaction. Employer policies supporting work-life balance are important to women. Your policies can embrace supportive maternity leave and a flexible hours work schedule or a home-office work schedule, for example.

Since children have the most influence on whether women work, the ability to balance work and family responsibilities is extremely important. When a child has a doctor’s appointment or is on school break, savvy employers allow women scheduling flexibility. Flexible work schedules take many forms, from a set number of hours worked from home to the full ability to determine when and where hours are worked.

Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Unconscious bias, embedded in workplace cultural norms, expresses itself in many ways. It limits women’s access to important projects, thus harming their advancement opportunities. It’s expressed during recruitment or performance reviews when men are consistently rated higher than women. It’s found when men are primarily chosen for prime training and development opportunities or promotions. Women want unconscious bias addressed in all its subtlety.

Equal Opportunities and Equal Pay

Statistics say the pay gap persists, with women earning approximately 77 percent of what men earn (figures vary depending on the source). There are a lot of reasons for the gap. In a study reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology, men who act altruistically, such as staying late to work with colleagues, were viewed more favorably than women who did the same thing. Women desire fair treatment, equal opportunities and equal pay.

Opportunities for Meaningful Work

In an ICEDR study, millennial women cited a lack of interesting and meaningful work as the third main reason for leaving organizations. Female employees want the work they do to make an important difference in some way, such as contributing to the improvement of people’s lives.

Paying Attention to Happiness

Paying attention to employee happiness reaps big rewards for organizations. Multiple studies have proven that a gender-balanced workplace enhances employee engagement, increases productivity and profits and improves organizational and brand reputation. Achieving gender balance requires a mix of policies and programs that engage, motivate, recognize and reward, as well as offer equitable pay and career opportunities to women.

Engage Your Employees

Employee engagement is mentioned first because an engaged workforce is inclusive, motivated, productive, recognized and rewarded. Giving employees the recognition they deserve is key to employee engagement. For more information on how to engage your employees, watch this webinar recording on Using Recognition to Drive Engagement.

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To learn more about what makes employees happy by checking out this infographic highlighting results from Achievers’ “New Year, New Job?” survey.

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Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.


EAW Success Stories

A-Player Appreciation: How Achievers Clients Celebrated Awesomeness during Employee Appreciation Week (EAW)

All businesses are comprised of a variety of capital, with human capital being the most critical to sustainability and success. The minds that drive innovation, the behaviors that build culture, and the personalities that forge relationships are all components of human capital. Employee Appreciation Week (or Day, Month, Year; however your organization chooses to celebrate it) provides companies with an annual occasion to be hyper-focused on their employees and express their gratitude in a public manner.

In today’s employee-centric world, where workers have many choices of where to lend their talents, it is important to reaffirm their decision to work for you. We know there was a plethora of appreciative gestures on or around Employee Appreciation Week, but we’d like to share some of the unique ways our clients leveraged the Achievers platform during the festivities to make their employees feel the love.

Creativity Through Messaging

Technology provides access to a bevy of different mediums and channels that can be used to convey a message. Bill Gosling Outsourcing took the opportunity to get creative with their Employee Appreciation Week approach. Bill Gosling CEO David Rae tried out his acting chops by starring in a heartfelt (and humorous – a blooper reel was included!) video message that was shared across their social media platforms. They wanted to make a direct appeal to employees by sharing a genuine message through a popular medium. And it certainly worked to promote positive recognition activity across their Achievers program. During Employee Appreciation Week, their total recognitions received increased a staggering 402.6% and their total unique recognitions (not including bulk recognitions) sent increased by 619.6%. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?

What’s In It for Me?

Give a little, get a little was the approach Mercedes-Benz Canada took to foster an inclusive Employee Appreciation celebration. With a relatively new recognition program that launched in February 2017, they strategically leveraged launch momentum to promote the program and explain the motivation for implementation. Their campaign integrated multiple elements to drive adoption and participation by showing top-down support of their program through a bulk recognition from the CEO and behavior-based incentives where members were rewarded with points for positive recognition activity. Participation they wanted, and participation they got: received recognition index increased 300% and sent recognition index increased 389%! Looks like the Mercedes-Benz team is on the road to cultivating a culture of recognition.

A Little Competition Goes a Long Way

Friendly competition is an excellent way to spur participation, especially if it’s paired with a clear call to action. A client who is a large financial institution took this approach in developing and rolling out a #payitforward type of challenge across their lines of business (LOBs), with the winner demonstrating the largest percentage increase in recognitions sent during Employee Appreciation Week. The challenge was promoted through themed graphics and communications across their intranet, on the Achievers platform and via digital displays. The results were notable on multiple fronts. The top two LOBs increased their sent recognitions by an impressive 37.12% and 37.1% respectively, with overall recognitions sent growing by 26%. The number of recognitions sent on the first day of their 2017 #payitforward challenge came close to surpassing the sum of all recognitions sent during their 2016 EAW campaign. Inspiring robust recognition activity through competition? Check.

Have Something for Everyone

ESS launched a robust Employee Appreciation Campaign with multiple opportunities for employees to get involved and also offered incentives to help drive participation. Their campaign was not only a reflection of their huge appreciation for their team, but a strategy to garner increased participation in the festivities. Incentive programs, including the distribution of additional points to award, prizes for being a top recognizer and account activation bonuses (to name a few), ran alongside graphics and communications promoting Employee Appreciation Week. The verdict on their approach? A roaring success: total recognitions received increased 128% and total unique recognitions sent increased 215%.  If you want to drive specific behaviors, incentivize; whether with points, prizes, or a good, old fashioned “Thank you!”

At Achievers, we like to say that Employee Appreciation Week is the Oscars of recognition. If there is ever a time during the year to go all in on recognition, this is it. As the above examples demonstrate, when you come up with creative ways to promote recognition, the results speak for themselves. The important thing is to encourage participation and program adoption in order to build a culture of recognition that honors the contributions of your workforce. After all, a company’s most valuable asset is its human capital.

Check out just one of the many ways we celebrate Employee Appreciation Week here at Achievers by reading our blog post Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Employees, We Appreciate You!

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About the Author

Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.