According to Gartner, organizations need to redesign their employee experience to include women’s lived experiences and preferences. This is essential to retain current female workers and attract new talent.
A Gartner poll of 3,515 workers in October 2021 discovered that 65% of women felt the pandemic had caused them to reconsider their work-life balance. COVID-19 has also changed how they value parts of their life outside of work, according to nearly 70% of mothers with children.
“In a hybrid work design – where women are more likely than men to take advantage of remote work – they may suffer from leadership bias,” said Alexia Cambon, research director in the Gartner HR practice. “Fifty-nine percent of women knowledge workers think in-office workers will be seen as high performers, and 78% think in-office workers are more likely to be promoted.”
Based on findings from the survey, business and HR leaders have three strategies: allow control over the workday to avoid fatigue, heighten focus on equity in the workplace and offer fulfilling work.
Compared to 49% of men, 59% of women said they feel tired before arriving at work. One way to alleviate this is by allowing employees to have more control over their workdays. This includes flexible hours (start, end, and break times), working from home, and location-independent work.
Gartner highlights the value of set collaboration hours when all team members are available for meetings, which can also help reduce the number of hours worked outside of the traditional workday. Blocking hours for focused work and asynchronous collaboration can also help employees achieve work-life balance.
Equity in the workplace is another issue that the pandemic has amplified. Gartner reveals that women are more likely to want flexible work than their male counterparts and that nearly half of them feel left out of activities and meetings that could help enhance their careers.
By being intentional with in-person meetings and moving towards a more outcome-based working arrangement, organizations can help reduce the anxiety that many women feel about their careers.
The final strategy is to offer fulfilling work. Gartner's research found that while 65% of men reported looking forward to working, only 57% of women agreed. At a time when deriving meaning from work becomes even more important, half of the women (53%) said the pandemic has made them question the purpose of their day-to-day job.
“Women are tired and due to the pandemic, many are lacking access to the re-energizing activities that provide personal fulfillment,” said Cambon. “In the absence of a life outside work, the pressure grows for work to be worth the burn-out. Employers must start redesigning work to be a unique value proposition in and of itself.”
Image credit: iStockphoto/Tero Vesalainen