Reinvent opportunity: Looking through a new lens

Our 2011 research finds that, despite low job satisfaction, employees prefer to create opportunities with current employers.


An Accenture survey of more than 3,400 professionals in 29 countries compared responses of equal numbers of women and men and found that fewer than half of all respondents are satisfied with their current jobs, but nearly three-quarters plan to stay with their companies.

The research, released as part of Accenture’s 2011 celebration of International Women’s Day, shows an unanticipated workplace dynamic. Today’s professionals are not job hunting, despite expressing dissatisfaction, and are looking for ways to enrich their careers.

Instead, they are focused on their skill sets and on seeking the training, resources and people that can help them achieve their goals. In turn, organizations should see this as an opportunity to engage employees and help them become more successful.

In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, employees and their companies are looking for opportunities to grow and thrive. But, because opportunity doesn’t always “come knocking,” those who look at career growth through a new lens—who reinvent opportunity to achieve their goals—will most likely succeed.


Download PDFRead our research. [PDF, 558KB]


Surveying more than 3,400 professionals in 29 countries, the research sought to:

  • Explore career satisfaction, aspirations and factors for career advancement.

  • Examine how professionals are creating opportunities to achieve job satisfaction.

  • Better understand what companies need to do to attract, develop and retain employees who consistently achieve high performance.

Key Findings

More than half (57 percent) of female business professionals around the world—and a similar percentage of their male counterparts (58 percent)—report that they are dissatisfied with their jobs, but nearly three-quarters (70 percent) plan to stay with their companies.


  • Survey respondents attribute their discontent to a variety of issues, ranging from being underpaid and a lack of opportunity for growth to a lack of opportunity for career advancement and feeling trapped.

  • In an effort to enhance their careers, more than half of survey respondents (59 percent of women, 57 percent of men) say that, this year, they will work on developing their knowledge and/or skill sets to achieve their career objectives.

  • Among the top factors that would make respondents want to pursue career advancement, women and men cited:

  • Better compensation (cited by 65 percent of women and 67 percent of men).
  • New, challenging assignments (44 percent of women and 46 percent of men).
  • Flexible work arrangements (39 percent of women and 34 percent of men).
  • Leadership positions within their companies (22 percent of women and 28 percent of men).
  • While more than half of respondents (55 percent of women and 57 percent of men) are satisfied with the career level they have reached, more women report that their careers are not fast tracked (63 percent of women versus 55 percent of men). At the same time, fewer women say they aim to reach C-level or equivalent positions (14 percent versus 22 percent).

  • When asked about factors that help women advance in their organizations, more than two-thirds of women (68 percent), but only about half of men (55 percent), cite hard work and long hours.

The research also identified differences among generations, particularly in terms of mentors:

  • Just one-quarter (25 percent) of baby boomer respondents (those born before 1964) worked with a mentor, compared with 32 percent of Generation X respondents (those born between 1965 and 1978) and 37 percent of Generation Y respondents (those born after 1979).

  • Of these respondents, having a mentor help plan career moves was most popular among Generation X, compared to baby boomers or Generation Y (reported by 51 percent, 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively).

  • Additionally, while all groups cited higher pay as the top reason for pursuing career advancement, the youngest participants—Generation Y—were significantly more motivated by pay than Generation X respondents or baby boomers (cited by 73 percent, 67 percent and 58 percent, respectively).


Because most of today’s professionals are not seeking to leave their companies, employers have an opportunity to understand and respond to their needs. Leading organizations will support employees as they work to enhance their skill sets and seek the training, resources and people that can help them achieve their goals.

Organizations should also listen to employees and provide them with innovative training, leadership development and clearly defined career paths. In addition, they should create a culture that encourages mentoring, develop diverse teams that provide new experiences and offer volunteer opportunities that engage their people and expand employee networks.

At the same time, employees must share the responsibility for reinventing opportunity. They need to understand their roles in helping an organization achieve its goals, and they need to use their passion and enthusiasm to drive results and create meaning.