Women in the workplace have born the brunt of Covid-19 related disruption, widening the gender gap in the American workforce. While women briefly caught up with men rejoining the workforce in summer 2020, female worker participation dropped off in autumn 2020, and has not recovered to male levels in the period since then. According to Gallup, the female labor force is 3.1% smaller than before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down businesses and schools in March 2020.
The factors for the post-lockdown gender gap are varied. Analysis points to issues such as female-oriented jobs that are affected more than male-oriented jobs — jobs such as child care, education, hospitality, and food service. That’s in addition to women who left the workforce due to school or daycare closures which required many families to transition to one full-time caregiver, and the likelihood that women were more likely to leave jobs out of fear of contracting Covid-19 at work.
Recruitment and retention of female talent is of increasing importance if the gender disparity can be reconciled. But, why does it matter?
Women in the Workplace Enhance the Organization
In a study, the Center for Creative Leadership found that women make workplaces better places to work for everyone. Study respondents with a higher percentage of women rated their organizations more favorably on a variety of queries, including job satisfaction and employee engagement. Employees with female managers responded that they experienced less burnout and felt more supported by their organization.
What Do Women Want in the Workplace?
In the same study, women responded that they were looking for meaningful work that connects to their “values, purpose, and work-life balance.” They also responded that they want flexibility in the workplace — including paid time off and the opportunity to work from home.
Supporting Women is Supporting Everyone
It’s safe to say that men also value finding satisfaction in their work, the opportunity to rejuvenate or handle personal affairs with paid time off, and the flexibility of remote work. Working to provide workplaces and company culture which support flexibility, balance, and strong benefits for employees is a gender-free proposition which makes everyone happy, enhancing retention and recruitment as well as employee engagement.
Focusing on deliverables and milestones, rather than hours logged at a desk, is one key change which can enhance everyone’s work/life balance. Making sure your team leaders are open to change and flexible about changing up the workload as projects evolve is another important key to a flexible workplace.
Could additional paid time off, shorter work weeks, or caregiving benefits become part of your organization’s compensation package? Some companies are adding caregiving stipends to help with child-care, granting additional time off to parents on staff, or converting to a four-day workweek, according to Entrepreneur.
Seeing the value in supporting the women in your workplace is the first step towards creating a more flexible, life-enhancing organization for everyone. Start today by asking your employees what they’re looking for out of work. With Web Benefits Design’s suite of in-platform communication tools, you can easily build targeted emails which let you reach out to your employees for feedback and ideas.