What keeps women in the workplace? Fair pay and a healthy work culture

Dive Brief:

  • The typical U.S. workplace is not meeting the core needs of working women, a July 2022 survey by Great Place to Work revealed. Of the nearly 4,200 working women who responded, 54% said they’re open to finding a new job in the next six months. One in 10 said they’d like to leave their job, but don’t feel they can.
  • To retain top women employees, companies must take four essential actions, Great Place to Work research showed: 1) at a minimum, offer fair pay and promotions; 2) create a psychologically healthy work culture; 3) help employees find meaning at work; and 4) be flexible with remote/hybrid options.
  • “The good news is any company can create cultures that support women and help them thrive,” Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush said in a release. The workplace culture survey platform’s 2022 list of Fortune Best Workplaces for Women bears this out. Nine in 10 women who work for companies making the list plan to stay in their job long term; 92% report a willingness to “give extra” at work.

Dive Insight:

An obvious first step to figuring out what female talent want is simply to ask. Employers often skimp on communicating directly with employees when trying to address their needs, panelists at a 2021 [email protected] virtual summit pointed out. Instead of hypothesizing about what the issues are, employers should have one-on-one conversations with their women employees, meet with affinity groups or conduct surveys, one expert suggested.

Employers should also continue to be flexible about remote work, the panelists said. Women will be attracted to organizations that maintain the trust developed during the pandemic, the panelists explained. In other words, women want to work in environments where they won’t be “dinged” for not being present at the workplace if they’re delivering on the work.

Flexibility is particularly important to female workers who are also family caregivers and bemoan the lack of access to roles that allow them to find a work-life balance. Over time, allowing more work-from-home roles will ultimately create this flexibility and allow more women to stay in the workplace and progress to senior roles, one chief people officer previously told HR Dive. Her company moved to a hybrid model to help women and caregivers foster a work-life balance.

Wherever women work, employers should support them, Great Place to Work emphasized. But the survey showed that women’s experiences are affected by where they work.

For example, when it comes to fair pay and giving extra to their work, women working remotely have the best experience, the survey found. But women working remotely struggle with feeling like they make a difference, compared with on-site workers. Also, almost half (49%) of women workers in hybrid arrangements said their company gives out fair promotions, while 43% of on-site workers and 40% of women working remotely share this view.

More women working on-site or on a hybrid schedule feel their work has special meaning compared with remote workers. But employees who work on-site are less likely to feel their workplace is psychologically healthy.

Employee mental health is a concern. More than half (53%) of the 5,000 working women who responded to a recent Deloitte survey said they were more stressed this year than in 2021, HR Dive has reported. Almost half (46%) said they felt burned out, and women in ethnic minority groups were more likely to say they felt burned out than their peers.

A June report from Every Level Leadership, a training and coaching company focused on building race equity at work, underscores those findings. The majority (88%) of Black women respondents said they’ve experienced workplace burnout, which they attributed to underrepresentation, undercompensation and various forms of exclusion.

The report calls on employers to improve workplace satisfaction for Black women by learning from their experiences, creating strategies responsible to and inclusive of their needs and adopting a “thrive-centric” DEI model that centers Black women.

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