New global research from Accenture, titled Defining Success, has found that more than two-thirds of professionals around the world say they can “have it all”.
In fact, having both a successful career and a full life outside work is so important that many choose a job based on its potential impact on work/life balance.
Seventy percent worldwide (South Africa: 84%) of both women and men believe they can have a successful career as well as a full life outside work; however, 50% (South Africa: 49%) also say they cannot “have it all at the same time”.
In addition, 52% (South Africa: 67%) say they have turned down a job due to concerns about its impact on work/life balance. In fact, work/life balance tops respondents’ definitions of career success, ahead of money, recognition and autonomy, cited by 56%, 46%, 42% and 42%, respectively (South Africa: 56%, 54%, 36%, 44%).
“Over the course of their careers, professionals will continue to define and re-define what success looks like,” says Monica Rubombora, managing executive for talent and organisation practice at Accenture South Africa.
“For many, career goals and personal priorities will take precedence at different times. As today’s professionals strive to find the right balance, leading companies will find innovative ways to help them develop, grow and thrive.”
The research also found that technology plays a role in achieving work/life balance, although respondents express mixed feelings about its impact on their personal lives.
More than three quarters (78%) (South Africa: 82%) agree technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules, and 80% (South Africa: 84%) report that having flexibility in their work schedule is extremely or very important to work/life balance. Yet 70% (South Africa: 80%) say technology brings work into their personal lives.
“The fact that work/life balance continues to be critically important to employees holds tremendous significance for employers,” says Nicky Moses, human resources director of, Accenture SA.
“Companies that can help their employees navigate both their professional and personal lives are likely to see strong employee engagement and enjoy an advantage as they recruit and retain high performers.”
The Accenture research also covers a wide range of work-related topics that help define success in the workplace, including:
* Job satisfaction – in the current survey, 53% of women and 50% of men say they are satisfied with their jobs and not looking for new opportunities, compared to 43% of women and 41% of men, who expressed satisfaction in Accenture’s 2012 research. (South Africa: 42% overall).
* Rewarding workplaces – when asked what words describe a good work environment, rewarding (cited by 59%) (South Africa: 86%) tops respondents’ lists. Honest, flexible and interesting follow (54%, 50% and 49%, respectively) (South Africa: 66%, 60%, 64%, fun: 61%).
* Tenure – two-thirds of women (66%) and three-quarters of men (75%) have been with their current employers for more than four years. (South Africa: 75% overall).
* Pay raises – the majority of respondents (58% of women; 64% of men) (South Africa: 63% overall) say they have asked for or negotiated a pay raise. These findings continue a steady upward trend: 49% of women and 57% of men in our 2012 research asked for or negotiated a pay raise, while 44% of women and 48% of men in the 2011 survey did the same.
* Vacation and work – three-quarters (75%) (South Africa: 79%) of respondents report they work frequently or occasionally during paid time off, generally checking e-mail, catching up on work, working with no distractions, and participating in conference calls (cited by 71%, 44%, 35% and 30%, respectively) (South Africa: 81%, 51%, 42%, 27%, work just like a regular work day: 34%).
At the same time, 40% (South Africa: 58%) consider themselves workaholics.
* Leaving – top reasons for leaving a job include responsibilities that don’t match a job description (38%) (South Africa: 36%), pay (38%) and uninteresting work (34%) (South Africa: 34%).
* Job search – when asked to name three things they would do to start a job search, respondents cited looking on job boards for open positions, contacting friends and others in their networks, and updating online profiles and information (cited by 30%, 24% and 21%, respectively) (South Africa: 32%, 18%, 19%, contact recruiters: 26%).