More than half of all women (58%) are in the process of rejoining the workforce, 48% of whom had quit their jobs before Covid-19, 32% of whom had quit during Covid-19 and 20% in between jobs, says a survey by Indeed, a global employment website.
The top sectors to which women are returning are automobile (71% rejoining), manufacturing (70% rejoining) and construction and real estate (68% rejoining). The sector with the lowest proportion of women returning to work is retail (43%).
The findings of the survey, titled “Women rejoining work post-Covid-19”, suggest a significant and more pronounced impact from the pandemic on women rejoining the workforce compared with men, exacerbating a national labor shortage.
Family responsibilities prompted the quitting
Over the last two years, 58% of women respondents believe female employees had quit their jobs to take on more family responsibilities, such as childcare. 32% of women said they quit because of the pandemic, with health concerns (21%) and maternity leave (13%) the other reasons given.
E-commerce (77% of all women respondents), construction and real estate and IT/ITeS (both 70%) are sectors in which an overwhelming proportion of women cite family responsibilities as the major reason for female employees quitting whereas in the retail sector maternity leave is believed to be the top reason (30%).
A significant proportion of employers (39%) agree with the view that female employees quit their organizations over the last two years because of family responsibilities. 27% said that a lack of appropriate recognition by management was a significant factor in causing women to quit, and 20% believe health and safety concerns, likely driven by the pandemic, were the reason.
Women find it challenging to re-enter the workforce
More than three-quarters (76%) say that in spite of the pandemic, they would still be confident about returning to work, but 67% of women respondents who are planning to do so say they find it challenging to re-enter the workforce.
41% of women said resistance/lack of support from family as the main difficulty, followed by 39% citing work-life balance.
In addition to an increased domestic load due to COVID-19, women continue to face non-inclusive behaviors at work. 23% say overworking or working night shifts has significantly increased their workload, while 19% say they face regressive attitudes from employers. 15% say they are not considered for promotions and 12% say they are not provided challenging work/responsibilities. However, only 3% considered inadequate maternity/non-maternity leave provision to be a cause of concern.
Re-entry programs are a necessity
Women who are returning to the workplace expect organizations to play a more active part in bringing them up to speed in their roles. 42% would want their organization to have up-skilling/reskilling programs, 30% would like re-entry programs and 26% would like facilities for flexible/remote working.
Employers comprehend barriers to re-entering the workforce and are working towards easing the transition. 37% are focused on providing returning women with manageable workloads, 28% say they provide adequate facilities for flexible/remote working and 19% also have up-skilling/reskilling programs to equip women with the necessary competency. However, only 4% provide re-entry programs, while a transport facility/allowance is only offered by 8%.
Remote/hybrid work is favored
Women re-entering the workplace would overwhelmingly want flexibility. 62% of women surveyed say they prefer work-from-home arrangements, 28% prefer hybrid mode, while only 10% favor working from an office.
A majority of employers (54%) facilitate working from home, while 21% operate in Hybrid work mode. Employers acknowledge the benefits of such work arrangements - 74% believe that remote/hybrid work models are conducive for women in India (38% in favor of work-from-home and 16% in favor of hybrid work). When it comes to collaboration and socializing, however, employers (28%) believe hybrid work helps women better.
Gender parity an imperative
Women want gender parity to be prioritized and implemented by organizations. 53% of women surveyed want their organizations to have transparent and just performance management, and 40% want their organizations to implement equitable policy measures. 31% would like parity across roles and functions. 20% would also like equitable career advancement and wage parity.
Employers have an increasing awareness of these expectations and are prioritizing them. 45% are implementing equitable policy measures, 31% are prioritizing transparent and just performance management, and 22% are prioritizing equitable career advancement and wage parity over the next year.
“Organizations need to ensure that women are inspired and empowered to grow their career by addressing what companies can do to support their women employees. Most importantly, organizations should create a culture of support where women feel safe and valued by offering learning and development opportunities. With organizations welcoming the women workforce back, they need to ensure they equip the women workforce with the necessary industry skills in order to retain and attract them,” said Nishita Lalvani, Senior Manager for Indeed India and SEA.
This survey was conducted by Valuvox on behalf of Indeed among employers, employees and job seekers in February 2022. A total of 410 businesses (employers) and 1,207 women respondents were considered in this survey. Women respondents were drawn from preferences/focus across organization size and type, and age.