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Future of Work | 5 minute read

Women's role in the workforce: today and tomorrow

April 2, 2021

These insights were gathered from a roundtable discussion with other TA leaders.

The large-scale departure of women in the workplace amidst COVID-19 has created rifts and difficulties in day-to-day operations. As the economy ramps back up and the future of work is forever changed, women’s roles are top of mind now more than ever. Here’s how companies can help employees avoid burnout and take an empathetic and authentic approach to the future of work:

Employee well-being is queen.

What we heard: A large portion of women have left the workforce due to stressors spanning professional, personal and parenting duties. This has contributed to rising attrition rates.

What we understood: Organizations have had to step up wellness programs, including physical, mental and emotional health resources. Teams banded together to create toolkits on kids’ activities, healthy habits and mental wellness tips to aid the exorbitant stress
the pandemic placed on women especially.

What is required: Flexibility around day-to-day duties helps women juggle work, caregiving and teaching. Having candid conversations and flex schedules goes a long way toward gaining employee loyalty.

Extra incentives help morale.

What we heard: As drivers in employment continue to shift, boosting morale is a top priority for many HR and TA leaders. Since previously established perks such as catered lunches and gym memberships are no longer applicable, leadership needs to pivot
incentives to maintain positive morale and outlook.

What we understood: There’s a flood of women seeking remote jobs. Barring flexible schedules and remote work will result in a shallower pool of diverse candidates to choose from, which is problematic when it comes to solving for the widening gap in high-demand jobs and skills. Presenting a company’s authentic values, drivers and sense of community are key for winning and retaining women.

What is required: Now more than ever, organizations must continue examining policies that affect women. Leadership must be bought into remote work and support continued flexibility with women’s schedules at the cost of losing top talent to bigger salaries
and better, more comprehensive support.

Avoid burnout with empathy.

What we heard: Burnout is happening on a wide scale for women inundated with stress at home and work. Not only that, but internalizing empathy for others’ stressors at work is causing even more emotional duress worrying about everyone else.

What we understood: As empathetic people, most women are feeling the effects of surrounding stress on top of their own. They want to feel supported by leadership and empowered through policies to exist in all their roles.

What is required: Leading with empathy will help your team members with boundaries and maintaining work-life balance. Check in on your team and make sure someone isn’t shouldering too many burdens. Also, false promises in your employee value proposition (EVP) will lead to attrition, so be sure to present your authentic culture upfront.

Long-term strategy wins over short-term fixes.

What we heard: Anticipating ongoing challenges and preparing for the future of work is preferred over the sentiment that “things will just get better and go back to normal.” It’s time to focus on lasting change in lieu of the band aids put in place amidst COVID-19.

What we understood: Half-baked contingency plans prepped organizations for an eventual full return to normalcy, when that is no longer the case. Acknowledging the permanent changes from the pandemic will allow companies to evolve their strategies to attract top talent.

What is required: Communicate with HR on how to share genuine company culture from an EVP standpoint and make it more appealing for target hires. Companies that do will attract quality talent. Consider a mental health employee resource group (ERG) for an
actionable win and to foster a better, more inclusive future for women in the workplace.

Read more from our other roundtables:

Top recruiting strategies for 2021: Planning ahead

Diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging is a mindset 

Talent acquisition: Adjusting to the new normal

About Carmen Scanlon

As Vice President of Client Solutions, Carmen Scanlon is responsible for consulting with organizations as partnership is being considered to support and optimize their talent strategy. With an extensive background in HR solutions, she combines her experience supporting clients with outsourced HR services and HR technology to deliver a unique perspective when building agile and customized talent solutions for WilsonHCG clients. Top 5 CliftonStrengths: Restorative | Belief | Focus | Futuristic | Relator