Losing women in the workplace is costing you money. Here’s how to keep them.

This executive of an S&P 500 tech company explains how to support women in the workplace.

Holly Faurot

We cannot overlook the impact uncertainty, stress and burnout have on a person's wellness.

Photo: Paycom

Holly Faurot is the chief sales officer at Paycom.

As any business owner or HR professional can tell you, workers across the nation have been affected by the turbulent waters of the last two years. Specifically, the U.S. labor force participation rate for women was its lowest in over three decades. Within The Great Resignation, millions of talented women have left the workforce or scaled back their roles, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes seeking better opportunities.

That means the competition for talent is intense, and losing key team members can be costly both financially and culturally. But I've never been a person who sees problems as insurmountable. Growing up on a small dairy farm in Oklahoma, excuses weren't acceptable. Instead, we focused on solutions. That same mentality can be applied to today's retention issue. Business leaders have the opportunity and responsibility to better shape our companies’ responses to the unexpected and initiate policies and behaviors that support our teams.

Focusing inward

As an executive of an S&P 500 tech company, I'm not immune to the struggle of managing personal and professional needs. While managing during the pandemic has been an endeavor, it especially affected women. From navigating school closures and health concerns to leading others during uncertain times, it’s no wonder that only 32% of women considered their mental well-being to be "good" or "extremely good," per research conducted by Deloitte. That same survey discovered that almost a quarter of women were considering a departure from work completely. When we lose talented women, we lose depth, intelligence and valuable experience.

Burnout is another oft-cited culprit of attrition. In its latest Women in the Workplace report, McKinsey & Company reported that 42% of women “often” or “almost always” felt burned out in 2021. That’s a significant jump from 32% in 2020, but I can’t say it surprises me. Stress compounds.

We cannot overlook the impact uncertainty, stress and burnout have on a person's wellness. Employees today expect benefits that consider the whole person. According to Mind Share Partners, 91% of employees surveyed believe companies should address mental health in the workforce. Businesses that steamroll with a "business as usual" mentality without considering their employees' mental health will likely suffer in the long run. Prioritizing wellness varies from company to company, but some options include well-being advisers to serve employees in the workplace and employee assistance programs, both on- and off-site.

Including all leaders

Historically, women have been underrepresented in some major industries, including tech. I'm proud to say that at Paycom, women represent approximately half of the overall workforce, over 47% of Paycom's management team and hold a third of its senior management positions. Representation is important; so is creating policies and initiatives that fit the needs of your workforce.

If the last two years have taught us anything, it's how to adapt. Reviewing your company's roster of benefits regularly and adjusting as needed shows your workforce you care. In a recent study done by MetLife, more than half of the employers interviewed said benefits will grow more key to retention over the next three to five years. Leaders should take note and start creating policies that benefit employees today. This is where understanding your workforce comes in. Without strategy and research, shiny perks are at best ignored and at worst abhorred.

Take working parents, for example. Benefits like support through family planning, pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy, postpartum and/or new parenthood can go a long way in helping these employees feel seen. These endeavors are authentic and will pay dividends.

Invest in development

Another shift to focus on is leadership development. When women were asked in Deloitte’s survey to name the most beneficial things their company could do to retain them (outside of a raise), the top two answers were better learning and development opportunities in addition to more networking and mentorship programs. According to a recent survey by OnePoll, nearly 70% of office workers would be willing to take a pay cut to have software and technology that’s twice as good as what they're currently using. Workers want investment in tools and programs that elevate their professional journey; they want a chance to expand their influence and leadership. But for many women, these opportunities seem unattainable.

Statistics show that leadership and career-growth opportunities are even more difficult for women of color and those in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s been so encouraging to see the rise of diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives in our workplaces. This has been a continued priority where I work. From our ongoing conversation series, Better Conversations — which engages employees and empowers them to have discussions about social injustice, women in tech, working parents and more — to giving initiatives that highlight inclusive and equity-based organizations, prioritizing inclusion should be ongoing and intentional. If employees don’t have a sense of belonging in their workplace, why would they want to stay?

There's no time like the present for creating a work environment built to last. Now is the time to invest in wellness, inclusion, benefits, workforce technology and diverse leadership programs to support and retain your talent. It’s up to us, as leaders, to keep our best workers engaged and in the workforce.

Latest Stories