What do you want at work? What does success mean to you? What is your biggest challenge at work? We asked these very questions (and more) to thousands of professional women around the world to better understand the challenges women face in their careers, what success means to them now and how that’s changed over the past 5-10 years.

While some stark differences emerged by country, we uncovered some key global trends. Today, almost two thirds of working women say that success is about achieving the right work-life balance. This is a major shift from 5 to 10 years ago when ‘salary’ topped that list along with an ‘interesting job’ and ‘responsibility’. Interestingly, work-life balance wasn’t really on the radar then.

These findings emerged from our ‘What Women Want @ Work’ study, released today in celebration and support of International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Women @ Work Infographic

So what’s changed? The upheaval of the global economy has meant fewer staff and resources so we all have to do more with less. The other major factor has been the growth and reliance on technology. We increasingly operate in an ‘always on’ work environment where many of us can’t resist starting and ending our days on our smartphones. The line between work and home life has blurred as technology has become systematically ingrained in our lives. All of this seems to have contributed to women taking stock and reassessing what’s really important to them.

Not surprisingly, our study tells us that working women the world over are looking for one thing above others – greater flexibility. As a working mum of two little boys, I know only too well what a juggling act it can sometimes be. Two out of three of working mums we surveyed agree and ‘would like more flexible work conditions’. Furthermore, there is a strong belief that for the next generation of professional women greater flexibility will be crucial for their success – a whopping  4 out 5 agree with that sentiment.

Other big issues that the study surfaced included concerns over lack of investment in professional development and lack of a clear career path. Encouragingly and despite all this, there is a great deal of confidence and optimism about careers and future opportunities – with 3 out of 4 women believing they can ‘have it all’. Perhaps that’s what women really want.

So where can professional women turn for support? As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is a great place to start.

  1. Get career inspiration. Choose someone you admire at your company, check out their LinkedIn profiles and take a look at the steps they took in their careers to be successful.
  2. Seek out women mentors. Join LinkedIn Groups for professional women in your industry or region. Make new connections and learn from others.
  3. Ask, and you shall receive. If flexibility is an issue where you work, connect with other women on LinkedIn via your own network and utilise LinkedIn Groups to gain advice on how to ask for flexible work conditions. Then, set a plan to present to your manager. You can also research positions similar to your own on LinkedIn to understand the skills required so you can have regular informed conversations about your position.

So what do YOU want at work? Let us know on our LinkedIn Company Page or tweet us @LinkedIn.