What does success mean to you? For many of us, success at work used to mean a cushy six-figure salary, a fancy job title and a corner office. The goal was to climb the corporate ladder and lie low until you collect your retirement benefits. These days, employees can’t count on a “job for life.” Few companies promise job security and generous benefits packages. Employees don’t necessarily feel loyal to their employers or obligated to stay long-term. Workers realize that it’s up to them to manage their own career paths and seek out the mentors and training they need to advance. Over the last several years, the definition of success at work has been changing. Here are some reasons why:
Little job security
While unemployment levels are at record lows, there is still no such thing as job security. With organizations like Ford, Tesla and iHeartMedia laying off workers, employees recognize that jobs for life are a thing of the past. Success at work doesn’t mean staying with the same company for years. Instead, it's about being more loyal to your career than to your employer.
More Millennials in the workforce
According to a Pew Research Center report, more than one-in-three American labor force participants (35%) are Millennials, making them the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Millennials define success at work very differently than other generations. Gallup’s research finds that they value six aspects of the employee experience:
For Millennials, work must have meaning. Their paycheck is important, but they're motivated more by mission and purpose than money.
Millennials aren’t just pursuing job satisfaction. Career development drives this generation, and they expect opportunities to learn and grow.
Millennials don't want bosses; they want coaches. That requires real relationships, not top-down management.
- Ongoing conversations
Annual reviews are too infrequent. Millennials need feedback on their current performance more often.
- Strength development
Focusing on their weaknesses won't inspire millennials to perform. Concentrating on their strengths will.
Increased technological advancements
Technological advancements have made it easier for employees to work from anywhere at any time. Employee benefits like working from home and remote jobs have taken over job postings as competitive benefits to attract up-and-coming talent. Success at work is no longer defined by how much face time you have with your manager. Instead, it's about having control over how and when you work. Workers want flexibility and recognize that the office is not the only place you can be productive and successful.
More women in the workplace
Women hold the majority of jobs (50.04%) for the first time in almost a decade. With more women dominating the workplace, success at work is being defined differently. The Center for Creative Leadership surveyed more than 500 female leaders to find out what women value at work. Here’s what they had to say:
Women want to find their calling
The most common reason women gave for staying with their current employer was that their job fits well with other areas of their life. Many discussed having personally meaningful work that connects to their values and purpose. Together, these reasons describe what social scientists refer to as "a calling." Callings are jobs that people feel drawn to pursue and see as a central part of their identity. Research shows that experiencing work as a "calling" is related to increased job satisfaction.
Women want flexibility
When women were asked to rate the importance of workplace benefits, flexibility rose to the top of the list. Paid time off was rated as the most important perk, followed by healthcare benefits, paid leadership development, flexible schedules, and opportunities to move up in the organization. Flexibility may be particularly critical when it comes to retaining talented women who also want to raise families.
Women want leadership opportunities
In the survey, women were just as likely as men to be interested in promotions, raises, and leadership development opportunities. They were also just as likely to ask for and accept leadership positions.
What is your definition of success? Having the flexibility to pick up your kids from school every day? Finding a career that you’re passionate about? One thing is certain—if you can’t define it, you won’t be able to achieve it.
A version of this article appeared on forbes.com, posted on January 22, 2020
EXPERD, Human Resources Consultant, Jakarta – Indonesia