After more than two turbulent years filled with uncertainty and unprecedented developments, people leaders are now trying to keep pace with the positive momentum, all while predicting and preparing for what comes next.
The shifts that have already occurred are sure to have a lasting impact in the business environment and will alter the way we think about women at work for years to come. There are a lot of reasons to be excited.
Tomorrow’s workforce is likely to look different from that of today. While organizations have begun to enact promising shifts, those changes will continue, and the effects will be long-term. The second annual Women@Work conference looks to examine the pivotal factors employers must recognize to ensure their businesses thrive.
How the past affects women in tomorrow’s workforce
As we look to the future, it’s critical to recognize that many of the societal changes that have taken place recently have adversely affected women at work. For instance, at the peak of the global health crisis in 2020, a tremendous amount of both men and women lost their jobs, but women lost one million more jobs than men did.
As the crisis continued, and schools and daycare centers remained closed, many working mothers were still the primary caretakers for their children, even with two parents working from home. Juggling all of these responsibilities at once became impossible for many, and in September 2020, more than 865,000 women quit the workforce in what was referred to as a “shecession.”
Even though job growth has rebounded since the global health crisis, men regained three times the jobs that women lost. And while many women have regained jobs, some are in lower-paying, less stable roles, such as retail and restaurant positions.
However, the events of the last two years also served to shed light on the inequalities women face, and thrust the social imbalance to the forefront of conversation. With work environments shifting between remote, in-office and hybrid setups, leaders must create opportunities for women to return to, stay in and fully contribute to the workforce.
There’s no returning to the “Old Days”
It’s not just the makeup of the workforce that’s now different — employee expectations have irreversibly changed as well. With tightened labor and skills markets, employees have gained the advantage. Organizations are largely responding with an emphasis on creating a positive employee experience.
Mental health and wellness have moved to the forefront of the conversation. Even before the pandemic, stress and burnout took an unequal toll on women and employees of color. Now, with employees looking to their organizations for help, businesses must provide a supportive environment that encourages holistic wellness.
Increasingly, employees believe their employers should do more than provide a paycheck; they should positively impact the world. For that reason, job candidates and employees want to work for organizations that have similar values. In that vein, employees expect their businesses to be socially responsible in terms of both words and actions.
Organizations must now understand the totality of complexities inside and outside the office that impact employees. Through that perspective, businesses can be ready to redefine the workforce of tomorrow.