Factors that Contribute to a Woman's Happiness in the Workplace

June 26, 2014 3 mins read

Following the various opportunities and burdens created by rapid socio-economic development, society's expectations and demands towards women in the workplace have increased.

We expect that these women effortlessly assume a variety of roles as they shift between the home and the workplace. As a consequence, the vast majority of women in the workplace have become preoccupied with mastering the balance between their personal and professional lives.

"Within an enterprise, the most influential factor in regards to a female employee's professional happiness is her ability to balance her work and her personal life, and to achieve a balance between her various roles," Head Secretary of the Shenzhen Human Resources Association, Ms Sun Juntao explains.  She believes that most modern female employees place an equal emphasis on their personal lives and careers in the hope that they will be able to not only attain professional goals, but also obtain a sense of happiness in their everyday lives.

Ms Sun's opinion is also reflected in recent statistics. Statistics collected as part of a survey into the happiness of Chinese people reveal that 77.6% of Chinese women in the workplace feel that their professional and personal lives are equally important, whereas 15.2% of people even feel that their personal lives are more important than their work. Ms Sun points out that, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, there is no substantial difference between the happiness of female workers vs. their male counterparts—regardless of gender, happiness requires the fulfillment of both material and spiritual needs. Any kind of happiness (professional or personal) is only possible following the satisfaction of certain fundamental material needs; correspondingly, the happiness of women in the workplace is founded upon a reasonable salary. However, female employees differ from their male colleagues where their spiritual needs are concerned. Due to traditional gender roles as well as increased societal expectations and pressures, once a male worker's fundamental material needs have been fulfilled, their spiritual needs generally revolve around professional achievements. Male workers therefore place a greater emphasis upon factors such as opportunities for promotion and professional growth. On the other hand, the majority of female employees are more preoccupied by  their relationships with their coworkers and the respect they earn from those around them. In conclusion, women are more driven by emotional factors that are comparatively easy to satisfy, and as a result, they are frequently happier than their male counterparts.

Of course, there are also a lot of women in the workplace who derive a sense of self-actualization and happiness from aiming towards and achieving professional goals. Ms Sun explains that different people (or indeed the same person at different stages of their life) have different needs and standards in regards to their happiness in the workplace. These needs are all categorized within the five levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs: physiological needs, safety needs, emotional needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. Ms Sun evoked the pursuit of happiness in the workplace by using her own personal experiences as an example. Ten years’ ago, when she had just entered the workplace, Ms Sun's sense of professional happiness revolved around the adequacy of her pay and the stability of her job. As she grew older and shifted from one job to another, the most influential factors in deciding her happiness changed: her good relationships with her coworkers, the comfortability of the work environment and the respect she earned from those around her. Now, along with accumulating experience, Ms Sun believes that she can only become happier via self-actualization in the workplace or in her career.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China