The pandemic brought with it new responsibilities, especially related to health issues and the personal front. Women employees bore the brunt of this. Research shows that many women faced more workload when the pandemic forced everyone to work from home. Having to balance household responsibilities and work pressure was the main reason for women to feel burnout. The result? A record number of women employees left their jobs.
That made it essential for employers to put a greater focus on creating a supportive culture – one that would help women stay and succeed. But for that, employers must be aware of their challenges and understand how they can overcome these issues.
Out of 5000 women across 10 countries, a whopping 80% stated their workload increased due to the pandemic. 66% said they had more responsibilities to take care of at home, such as housework and child-rearing. On top of this, there’s an unfair expectation that women must be some kind of superheroes and multitask their way to glory. Data also shows a rise in other challenges for women from minority groups, such as queer women. These include high levels of burnout and other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Issues further escalate when the workplace has a toxic and discriminatory environment. That can include tougher conditions to get promotions. It can mean a lack of the correct infrastructure for certain needs. For example, in a physical space, it can mean not having a disability ramp installed, or failing to build a sanitary pad dispenser. All this ends up creating a work-life imbalance that is difficult to navigate. The women surveyed also felt that their employers didn’t help them create clearer boundaries between their work time and leisure time during the pandemic. This inaction (and apathy?) was reflected as the top-most reason for women leaving.
Non-Inclusive Work Culture
A non-inclusive environment is one of the other top reasons for women to quit their jobs. That is also demotivating, if not downright discouraging. Behaviors such as unwanted physical contact, disrespectful remarks about their gender, physical appearance, etc., all add up to uncomfortable situations. This is especially true for women from minority backgrounds, such as queer women from LGBTQUIA+ communities, disabled women, and others. Many women experience such non-inclusive behaviors but are unable to do anything about it for fear of a career setback.
Lack of Empathy and Recognition
Women leaders are doing more than men in similar positions and are supporting the people on their teams in many different ways. Women leaders spend more time on work that falls outside their official responsibilities. They’re also more active in supporting employee resource groups from underrepresented groups. But what is discouraging is that they do more work for the same (or less) pay. This is true for all levels in the corporation, including senior-level managers.
Such a work environment has naturally made it increasingly unpleasant for women to struggle between their various priorities. This makes the idea of staying out of the corporate arena more attractive. It’s less stressful for many and helps them alleviate the burnout that we discussed earlier.
The Great Resignation
All this led to women being the drivers behind The Great Resignation, as more women than men left their jobs during the pandemic. That includes corporate leaders, middle managers, and individual employees. A report saw that women were spending 20 hours a week on just caregiving and housework. Is it any wonder that over 4 million women left their jobs in the US alone? Additionally, it’s not that they wanted to move to another role. Most just wanted to take a break rather than start working elsewhere, although many did choose to work somewhere less intense. That’s why it’s exceedingly important for companies to curb this exodus by taking the right steps.
How To Win Your Employees Back?
The major issue becomes having to win the employees back. Employers have to make sustainable and meaningful progress on gender equality at work. If enterprises want women employees to meaningfully contribute to the company’s growth, they need to make their women team members feel supported by taking care of their mental health, motivation levels, productivity, and team spirit.
To empower women employees, companies must understand the root of the issues and make meaningful decisions to be considered progressive. Shallow measures will not work in the long run or create a genuinely inclusive culture. A better work-life balance requires companies to show visible and measurable commitment from their leadership and create the right opportunities for those who need it. The right action will create the right culture and that’s what will rebuild the organization. It is only then all the employees will feel nurtured, nourished, and motivated. Even during a time like the pandemic, when tension is high, and many things are uncertain, meaningful actions, achievable goals, and empathetic leadership will help take the organization to greater heights.
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