4 meaningful strategies to retain female employees

Once you’ve realized the importance of attracting female employees, you need to put thought into how you will retain a workforce with gender diversity. Retaining female employees is becoming a hot topic, particularly as women’s participation in the labor force has declined since 2000.

While retaining female employees requires holistic efforts by the entire organization, here are some concrete tips on how businesses can retain women in their office.

Allow flexibility in working hours/environment

43% of surveyed workers said they would choose flexibility in their work over a pay raise. Flexibility is even more important for women, however, since women spend more time caring for family members and performing household work than men.

By offering all of your employees more flexibility in working, you can help everyone succeed including women.

There are many ways of increasing flexibility in employees’ work including:

  • Working from home or remotely
  • Compressed work-weeks of 4 ten-hour days rather than 5 eight-hour days
  • Schedule control for employees to set their own working hours
  • Allowing employees to help determine their own job descriptions
  • Increasing contract and part-time work

Flexibility is increasingly important for workers, especially millennials. Millennials with high levels of flexibility in their jobs are more likely to plan to remain at their current jobs than those with low flexibility.

Offer benefits that work for women (and their families)

As women are pulled away from the workforce to care for family members, including children and elderly relatives, benefits that cater to these issues are increasingly important to retain female employees. A survey by SurveyMonkey found that the top 5 most helpful benefits that their employers are currently providing were:

  • Affordable health insurance coverage, including dental
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Paid sick leave
  • Ability to leave when a child was sick
  • Paid vacation time

Even more interesting is the benefit that women want that isn’t being offered by their employer: daycare and childcare benefits. We have reported before on the importance of childcare for employees in Nashville.

Research shows that absenteeism is reduced by up to 30% and turnover decreases by up to 60% when a company provides childcare.

Take a look at the benefits you’re currently providing for all working parents, particularly women, and see if they are truly meeting their needs.

Examine your payment structure for equality

The gender pay gap has narrowed but it’s still sticking around. In 1980, women earned just 64% of what men earned for men doing the same work. In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that women are now earning 82% of what men earn for the same work. This number has remained relatively stable for the last decade.

In Tennessee, the average gender pay gap in real dollars is $7,745 across all races and ethnicities. But the gap is larger for women of color: $21,740 for Latino women and $15,059 for African American women. Overall, the gender pay gap costs women in the U.S. $900 billion every year.

Businesses can do their part by examining their payment structure to see if there are any lurking sources of pay inequality.

You can also consider making the switch to a results-only work environment (ROWE). A ROWE workplace only considers the output of employees, not the hours they work in a day or week. This inherently leads to a more flexible work environment where performance is rewarded rather than office face time. This means women who need to spend time at home caregiving won’t be penalized as long as they are generating results.

If results are truly the measure of performance and pay, men and women should see equal compensation for the same work.

Promote talented women

Unequal promotion is the number one area of inequality in the workplace according to a survey conducted by Fairygodboss. Of women that reported inequality in their workplace, 36% that unequal promotion was the main source of that inequality. This perception is borne out in research. McKinsey found that women are less likely to be promoted than men, with women of color seeing even more discrimination. Women of color make up just 3% of C-suite level employees while white women hold 18% of those positions and white men hold 67%.

Promoting talented women is good for business. Women in leadership roles is a good predictor of a company’s economic viability and success. According to one study, moving from no female leaders to 30% female leaders could lead to a 15% increase in net revenues.

Make sure that you are not overlooking the talented women in your organization. Promote women and create a pipeline of female leaders than can help your business succeed.

To read more about the benefits of hiring female employees, read our blog post “3 reasons you should be hiring women”.

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