By Stephen Fournier, KeyBank Central New York Market President
We celebrated Women’s History Month in March. It’s a time to not only look back, but consider what’s happening in the workplace today. While the pandemic took a toll on all workers, women often bore the brunt of COVID-related upheaval. A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were over 1 million fewer women in the labor force in January 2022 than there were in February 2020.
While it’s impossible to point to just one reason, there’s no doubt that many of them have been more affected by the need to assume caregiving responsibilities in the wake of virtual to intermittent school and daycare closures.
Now, as communities begin to resume a semblance of the “new normal,” the time is right for women to re-enter the workforce. But it’s likely they will need encouragement and an assurance that their employer will meet their needs.
A popular phrase in today’s corporate vernacular is for employees to “bring their whole authentic selves to work.” The goal is to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion by creating an atmosphere where your staff feels comfortable expressing themselves.
As workplaces seek to re-engage women, they should prioritize programs and benefits that address workers’ “whole authentic selves.” Here are six elements that will show all employees – and women in particular – that you have their whole selves in mind.
- Promote flexibility.
Today’s workers crave flexibility in the workplace. While not every job is equipped to be conducted remotely, there a variety of ways that you can offer flexibility, such as operating in a hybrid environment where teams come together as needed for collaboration or allowing employees to return to their homes for solo task-oriented work. If your company’s work functions require in-person attention, consider other ways you can offer flexibility, such as rescheduling early morning meetings so women can tend to the morning demands of children, or encourage them to log off early to handle school pickups and finish projects later in the evening.
- Emphasize output not facetime.
As women increasingly opt for work-from-home arrangements when offered, a new potentially damaging dynamic is inserting itself into the workplace. It’s called “proximity bias” and it refers to the tendency to offer increased mentoring and more attractive assignments to people who are in the office with you. Managers should be aware of this potential pitfall that can harm women’s career advancement.
- Tune in to their needs.
Talk to your staff about what would help make their workload more manageable and acknowledge their contributions. Recognizing you appreciate their efforts goes a long way in promoting engagement and productivity.
- Offer programs related to physical wellness.
Offering access to fitness apps or encouraging workers to take frequent stretching or activity breaks can help break the cycle. Physical exercise is not only helpful to stave off medical conditions but can play a role in relieving stress and boosting mood.
- And don’t overlook mental wellness.
Nearly 80% of employees reported they had recently experienced work-related stress, according to the Work and Well-being Survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). Often women bear the brunt, as they juggle work duties with caregiving and home-related tasks. Providing benefits that address mental health should be a key priority, as burned-out workers won’t perform to the best of their ability and are more likely to quit their jobs, leaving workplaces scrambling.
- Provide resources for financial wellness.
A final component of looking after your employees’ “whole authentic selves” is considering their financial wellbeing. The first place to start is to double-check that your team is adequately compensated. A recent survey from Willis Towers Watson found the tight job market is spurring companies to raise salaries to be more competitive during the “Great Resignation,” and your compensation packages must keep pace.
To help guide your employees on the path to financial wellness, KeyBank offers a no-cost program called Key@Work, with resources that promote better financial habits. It’s a win-win for you as the employer, too, as employees who are stressed about finances are five times more likely to let them become a distraction during work.
Each year Key4Women celebrates the accomplishments and achievements of women as they progress on their journey to financial wellness. Join us on June 2, 2022 at the Marriott Hotel Syracuse for the annual event. This year’s keynote speaker, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, will share her remarkable story of how she chased a dream of excellence from humble beginnings in East St. Louis to become an Olympic Champion and someone who many consider to be the greatest female athlete of all time. For more information about the event and attending email Rachel Galusha at [email protected].
About the author: Stephen Fournier is President of KeyBank’s Central New York Market. He may be reached at either 315-470-5096 or [email protected]. Any opinions, projections, or recommendations contained herein are subject to change without notice and are not intended as individual investment advice. This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice. KeyBank is Member FDIC. KeyCorp. © 2022.
Companies to Consider When Searching for a New Job
From startups to large corporations, sometimes choosing your next employer can be difficult. Making the wrong choice can mean setting yourself up for unnecessary stress and misery. With that in mind, you might be asking yourself, “Where should I work?”
Conduct a Self-Assessment
Startups are fast-paced and exciting, but they can also be risky. You may get to wear multiple hats and diversify the skills you use, but remember that the pay may be lower compared with a large enterprise. Larger businesses, on the other hand, are typically more rule-oriented, but can usually provide greater job security and higher pay.
When deciding where to focus your job search, take your personality into account. For example, if you’re the type of person who values stability, then consider a company with a long, reliable history that presents a long-term employment opportunity. If you’re thinking a startup might be right for you, make sure that you’re comfortable working in a non-traditional environment and that you’re willing to deal with new problems and changing responsibilities on a regular basis.
If a small or medium-sized business is on your radar, make sure that you’re okay working in a more collegiate atmosphere. You should also be willing to tackle a range of roles and responsibilities and be part of a small, close-knit group of workers. For those thinking about joining a large corporation, make sure you think about what it would be like to work in a structured environment with a clearly-defined role and chosen career path.
Consider the Company Culture
Beyond the size and makeup of the company, consider whether you prefer a nonprofit or for-profit enterprise, and whether or not the company aligns with your values. Some potential employees will choose to work at a company if they’re involved in the community. This makes it easier to narrow down the list of companies you would be willing to work for.
Consider all aspects of the company culture in your decision. Look for online reviews and feedback from past and current employees about any companies you’re considering. Do your homework and determine if their culture meshes well with your personality and work-style.
A job can be so much more than a paycheck. That’s why it’s so important to choose carefully when deciding what type of company to work for. Keep in mind that there are more resources available to job seekers than ever before. You can read about the company you’re considering and make an informed decision based on firsthand reviews. Once you find the right fit, you’ll be off to a meaningful and enjoyable career.