Work hours may not be an issue for many women employees but rigidity in office timings may become a turn off factor in the longer run
At a time when companies have started working towards gender diversity, findings of Defining Success 2013 diversity survey can provide some vital clues to engage women employees
What attracts women towards a job or company? What is it that matters most to high performing women employees when it comes to job satisfaction? What provokes them to quit? Answers to these –and many other such questions—may prove beneficial for the organizations that are focusing on gender diversity. The Defining Success 2013 survey conducted by Accenture provides some crucial clues. The survey reveals that 68 per cent women consider work-life balance to be the most important factor. The results are based on the answers given by 4,100 business executives across 33 countries. In a scenario where many companies are trying to figure out ways to increase the number of women employees, these figures are highly important. Increased focus on recruiting women employees can be clearly seen. However, it is important to have the right perspective. Recruiting the right women candidates is important; equally essential is to make efforts towards their retention. Companies that boast of a strong women work force have succeeded by understanding the difference between the needs of their men and women workforce. Understanding requirements of the women workforce may be of great help:
Work timings are important for the women workforce:
Work hours may not be an issue for many women employees but rigidity in office timings may become a turn off factor in the longer run. Studies have proved that women are more likely to go for a job that gives them flexi-work hours, even when this is at the cost of salary hike. In an article titled Have Women Found Work/Life Balance, writer Sarah Robbins quotes Jennifer Kohler, a director of Catalyst, “More companies are prioritizing what a staffer does, not where she does it.” Robbins asserts that more and more companies are focusing on the results. She writes, “Nowadays nearly 27 percent of American women work flexible schedules, up from 11 percent in 1984, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (sic)” Timings that may interfere with personal responsibilities of women employees or may pose security problems for them discourage women employees from spending more time in their office.
Give them the right eco-system:
In a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior it was revealed that women feel distressed due to the work pressure that trails them even after office hours. In this study Scott Schieman, a professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto points out, “Men are traditionally raised to be financial providers and therefore they don’t expect to be free from that role even when they are at home”. Mostly women are expected to perform in an eco-system which by default is designed for men, since they have dominated the workforce since long. Women employees are expected to fit-in and deliver results which are analysed against the criteria applicable to male employees. Women have different responsibilities and their experiences are different than men. Often this factor is lost in oblivion. Judging women against the parameters (such as long work hours, frequent travels, less family responsibilities, late night meetings) that do not apply to them is a common mistake that organizations commit. Job responsibilities do not make much difference to women, the way they are expected to fulfil these job responsibilities does.
Fair growth opportunities:
To make workplaces gender-neutral, there is still a long way to go. Many women employees complain of biased behavior in terms of responsibilities or benefits that they get as compared to what their male counterparts get. Existence of bias against women cannot be denied. The Accenture report points out that lack of opportunities, is one of the major reasons that leads to dissatisfaction among women employees. While a larger chunk of women employees (80 per cent) said that they believe they can have a good career and family both, at least 58 per cent of women said that they believe their work goes unnoticed. At the same time, 42 per cent women said that lack of opportunity for growth was one of the reasons leading to job dissatisfaction.
The emphasis on women-friendly workplaces seems to be taking the wrong direction when high performing women complain of being denied opportunities. One cannot run away from the fact that it has a lot to do with the whole buzz around the word ‘women-employees’. For a workforce to give better results it is essential for the companies to give it fair opportunities. The focus needs to be on gender-neutral workplaces, where problems and requirements of the whole workforce are considered and sorted.