Avoid Turnover Among Women in Your Workforce: 4 Trends to Watch
This year was a wake up call for organizations to rethink how they engage and retain women in the workforce. The job market saw a dramatic power shift from employers to employees in 2021, with record job openings and quit rates, including more than half of women considering career changes. By the end of October 2021, nearly 40 million Americans quit their jobs, representing millions more than any previous year.
Employees – especially women – are also facing high levels of burnout. The annual Women in the Workplace report shows that 42 percent of women often or almost always feel burned out, compared to 30 percent of men. Women also continue to be promoted at far lower rates than men and for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women advance, and this broken rung at the first step up to management makes it nearly impossible for companies to lay a foundation for sustained gender diversity progress at more senior levels.
Companies that take swift action to address challenges related to turnover, burnout, and lack of women’s representation in leadership will be better positioned to engage and retain women in their workforce, while those that stick to the status quo will lose the talent battle. Based on our observations from partnering with HR leaders, we’ve identified key trends for you to keep in mind as you strive to empower women across your organization to reach their full potential in 2022 and beyond.
1. Hybrid Work Will Continue to Challenge Belonging & Community
The pandemic and a widespread shift to remote jobs blurred the lines between personal and home lives. And the increased ties to work while opportunities for strong human connection declined, led to more employees reporting feelings of isolation and burnout – driving many employees to quit.
When employees feel they belong and see real evidence that they are valued, they are more engaged, perform better, and more likely to stay. To foster belonging, companies must seek innovative solutions to intentionally connect female employees to develop skills, access wellness tools, share experiences, build their networks, and gain real-life advice from women who have navigated similar work situations. Hybrid and remote work are here to stay and organizations that don’t make belonging a priority will fall behind on their gender diversity goals.
2. Growth & Learning in a Coached Environment Will Boost Engagement
Nearly three in four women view employer-sponsored development and training as important, yet only 39 percent say their employers provide such resources. If women lack opportunities to learn and grow with your organization, they won’t hesitate to go elsewhere, upending productivity, morale and your gender diversity goals.
It’s important to offer all women – not just high-potential employees – opportunities for ongoing learning and career growth. With real-world learning resources and the right tools, women can build leadership skills, have courageous career conversations, and better navigate the key pain points they face. By addressing and overcoming these challenges, women are more likely to thrive and remain with your organization.
In addition to expanding learning opportunities, leading employers recognize that there’s room for improvement when it comes to offering women expert guidance, mentoring and coaching. More than half of women say they do not get enough out of their mentorship programs at work, compared to 43 percent of men.
To boost engagement, democratize support across all women in the organization and encourage women to build their networks, top employers also offer career growth opportunities, coaching and mentoring in groups. Experienced guides and mentors offer women virtual, expert-led coaching and support to empower them to stay on track with career development plans. Such guidance also provides an outside perspective, so conversations and growth happen in a trusted, psychologically-safe environment.
3. Employers Will Speed Up Hiring & Embrace Alternative Talent Pools
Traditional, lengthy recruitment processes are no longer working. As the “Great Reshuffle” continues into 2022, companies will identify new ways to speed up the hiring process so they secure qualified candidates before they get scooped up by the competition. This might include quickly scheduling interviews, reducing the total number of interviews, and even foregoing assessments and reference checks for candidates they’re eager to get on board.
Given such fierce competition for talent, employers will also be more open to alternative talent pools, beyond simply relying on applicants they receive from a traditional job posting.
One example is boomerang employees, or employees who previously left a company and decide to return. The latest LinkedIn data shows that boomerang employees account for 4.5 percent of all new hires on the platform this year, up from 3.9 percent in 2019. When an employee leaves a company on positive terms and eventually returns, it’s often a win-win for both the organization and the employee, due to such benefits as decreased time and resources spent on recruitment, onboarding and training.
Organizations will also increasingly tap into candidates who have taken a career break and are looking to return to the workforce. More than 3.5 million women left the workforce during the pandemic and 63 percent of women who left are ready to return. For decades, candidates with resume gaps have been overlooked – even if they’re qualified. More employers now recognize that returning professionals are eager to make an impact and bring outstanding career histories, academic credentials, and leadership acumen to their organizations.
Top companies tap into an experienced partner to create a structured return-to-work program. With the right partner, a returnship is mutually beneficial: as an employer, diversify your talent pipeline and evaluate a candidate’s fit for a permanent role. And, offer returners the support, confidence, and skills needed to make an impact and achieve success in their return to work.
4. Workplace Flexibility Will Move Beyond Remote Jobs
Before the pandemic left many organizations with no choice but to adapt to remote work, offering remote or hybrid job opportunities was considered a unique benefit for employers to attract qualified employees. Now, remote work is simply table stakes for most corporate employees. In fact, more than 50 percent of women prefer to continue working remotely, and many would consider quitting if required to return to the office. Flexible and remote work arrangements are necessary for many women to remain in the workforce as they juggle work and personal responsibilities – women handle an average of 75 percent of the world’s total unpaid-care work, including childcare, caring for the elderly, cooking and cleaning.
Beyond remote work opportunities, to gain a competitive advantage in a hot job market, employers will increasingly offer other flexible work benefits, such as allowing employees to set their own hours and, in some cases, transitioning to four-day work weeks to curb burnout.
While flexible work options are not one-size-fits-all across organizations, an important consideration any organization should make is trusting employees to get their work done without requiring a set time or place to do this work. This can include such options allowing employees to choose the environment that works best for them – in-office, hybrid, or fully remote – or offering on-demand learning resources, rather than scheduled training sessions, so they can fit learning and development into their schedules.
Take Action to Empower, Engage, & Retain Women
A key lesson we can learn from the past year is that business as usual is no longer an option as companies seek to re-energize and re-engage female talent, and make progress toward gender diversity goals in today’s turbulent world of work.
Moving into 2022, it’s critical to be more intentional about fostering belonging, offering development and mentoring opportunities, providing workplace flexibility, and reimagining recruitment to avoid turnover among women in your workforce.