Growth Driven By Women’s Well-Being

Growth Driven By Women’s Well-Being

New-age organisations must move away from a ‘manufacturing mentality’ and nurture an enabling work environment that takes care of the well-being of women employees, ultimately resulting in an equal and empowered workforce.


With COVID-19 showing signs of ebbing and employees trickling into physical workspaces once again, it is time for organisations to rethink what the workplace can offer its employees, particularly women, who primarily faced the brunt of the pandemic. Flexibility, sensitivity, and empathy must be the core of this reboot strategy, focusing on women employees’ physical well-being, mental health, and emotional needs.


As the workplace moved into the personal space in the last two years, women had the challenging task of juggling work and domestic responsibilities, leading to severe stress and burnout. While women have always donned the dual role, the pandemic put this in sharp focus more than ever before.


According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace report from LeanIn and McKinsey, women are more burned out than a year ago, and the gap in burnout between women and men has nearly doubled. In this survey of 65,000 workers across 423 organisations, one-third of women said that they were considering scaling back their careers or leaving the workforce altogether. Alarming as it may sound, if organisations are serious about their gender inclusivity agenda, they must make their workplace more conducive and welcoming for women.


Hit the Reset Button


As organisations gear up to embrace employees once again at the workplace, they must reconfigure working conditions and tweak HR policies. Women who walk the tight rope of work-life balance, benefit greatly and deservedly so. This means that organisations must invest in an ecosystem with adequate support systems and resources that allow women employees to have fulfilling careers.


Hybrid is the Way to Go


In the new normal, organisations may not be able to get back to the pre-COVID times wherein presence in the office during stipulated hours was mandatory. So, organisations continue to offer flexibility, allowing their employees, especially women, to work remotely and from the office, as the need may be.


This creates a hybrid model that is a win-win for all. It ensures better focus and productivity and does not put women in the difficult spot of choosing between family and work, thus relieving women from mental stress and strain. A flexible model will also encourage more women to return to the corporate workforce with greater confidence.


Of course, the model is still in its nascent stage, but it will undoubtedly evolve in the coming months as organisations learn to tackle the long-term impact of the pandemic efficiently.


Address Burnout Issues


According to a survey by LinkedIn, 47% of working women in India reported feeling increased stress due to the pandemic as opposed to 38% among men. This cannot be brushed under the carpet or dealt with in a casual manner. Pandemic burnout is real and documented, and, it certainly affects employees’ morale. Companies must also be empathetic about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the employees who have recovered from the illness, including psychological impact, anxiety, and depression.


Organisations must take cognizance of this reality and act accordingly. This translates to offering counselling support that addresses burnout issues early on and providing childcare support so that women are not worried about their children’s needs. Support groups for women within the organisation can also create a safe environment wherein women feel comfortable voicing their concerns.


Embolden and Encourage


Organisations must make the workplace more invigorating for women by giving them more leadership roles that bring out their innate best. Mentoring also plays a crucial role in motivating women to stay on the path of professional development. This includes women mentoring others and women being mentored by experienced coaches.


Upskilling and training women, especially those who return to the workforce after staying away for some time will make sure they do not miss out on opportunities that their male counterparts may enjoy.


Diverse and Inclusive


This is the time for forward-looking organisations to double up their efforts on the diversity and inclusion front and bridge the glaring gender gap in the workplace. While ‘diversity hire’ and ‘inclusive workplace’ are often bandied phrases, the reality shows a different picture. Greater hiring of women, financial parity, rapid career progression, and outcome-based evaluation are some of the critical tenets of the diversity plan that organisations have to implement diligently.


Companies must also eliminate biases against women employees, especially in tech-based roles. Stereotypes such as ‘women do not work long hours’ or ‘women do not take on roles that involve travelling’ must be shattered by creating flexible timings as long as deadlines are met. Women leaders and decision-makers can be encouraged to participate in webinars and online conferences where physical presence is not a requisite.


Creating an Empowered


Workforce Companies of the future cannot afford to neglect the needs of women, who form an integral part of organisational strength. It is no longer just about producing ‘X’ products or hitting a particular sales target or volume. New-age organisations must move away from a ‘manufacturing mentality’ and nurture an enabling work environment that takes care of the well-being of women employees, ultimately resulting in an equal and empowered workforce.


Veena Satish is the Vice President of People and Culture at MoEngage. Veena heads people operations and talent acquisition strategy as well as oversees the diversity and inclusion goals at MoEngage. She was previously the HR Director at Walmart and has also worked in leadership roles in Bloom Energy and Cisco.


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