Karren Brady

Over half of working women in the UK (62%) are looking for better work/life balance in their careers, according to new research announced today by Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo, the must attend event of the year for inspiration, recruitment and progression. In fact, 59% of women surveyed stated that a good work/life balance was more important than salary.

The research, conducted in partnership with 3GEM, surveyed 1,000 working women in the UK to understand the challenges they face in workplace and what they’re looking for from an ideal career. For 38% of working women, the pandemic has changed how they feel about their career, with 15% feeling more negative about their role. Given this it’s unsurprising that 37% have either started a new job or are planning on starting a new job/business as a direct result of the pandemic.

One of the biggest requirements women are looking for in any new role is flexible working hours, with 69% listing it as one of the top three things they look for. Of those surveyed, just 22% feel their current role doesn’t offer a good level of flexible working options. However, 34% have struggled to find a role with the level of flexibility they require, a figure that has decreased over the last 2 years (39% in 2019).

After work/life balance and flexible working hours, women listed remote working options (44%) and support for mental health and wellbeing (33%) as the next highest priority items from their workplace or role.

“After an extremely challenging 18 months for everyone, we’re currently undergoing what economists have dubbed the Great Resignation, as millions of people leave their current jobs for something new. For many women this decision to move roles has been triggered by a lack of flexibility and support by their employers,” commented Christie Day, Group Event Director at Hub Exhibitions. “If business leaders want to secure the best talent during this period of movement, they must learn from the pandemic so far and really listen to what women need. With Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo we want to empower people to take action in reaching their professional goals, put them in front of progressive companies committed to DEI for recruitment opportunities, and provide a platform to make strategic connections for business growth.”

The pandemic has further highlighted the ongoing challenges women face juggling childcare and work responsibilities. Worryingly, 37% are frustrated that they have had to sacrifice salary and career progression to ensure work/life balance in bringing up a family, whilst 31% worry that by working from home more to manage childcare responsibilities they will miss out on promotion opportunities.

However, some challenges have reduced. The number of women who have female friends who have had to give up work due to childcare challenges has reduced by 10% since the pandemic began (38% in 2021 v 48% in 2019). There’s also been a decrease in the number of women who have had to give up work due to a lack of flexible working options (33% in 2021 v 41% in 2019).

When asked about how they feel about the growing use of technology in the workplace, 44% think new technologies in the workplace will help them achieve a better work/life balance, 36% think it will help improve their productivity and 25% believe it will provide more career opportunities. But the growing use of new technology in the workplace isn’t ideal for everyone, as 16% worry technology will make their current role redundant.

Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo runs from 13-14 October 2021.