In a competitive business climate, retaining key employees is vital for the health of the company. But when these key employees are women, many corporations and industries continue to be befuddled as to how to retain this valuable cohort.
Indeed, it’s surprising how many supposedly modern institutions are caught in a time-warp. Unfair compensation, gender imbalance in senior management positions, inflexible schedules and even active discouragement of female employees continue to plague companies large and small.
The good news is, a few simple steps can vastly improve conditions for female employees. And the benefits of maintaining a women-friendly environment far outweigh the costs. Retaining employees – male or female – is just good business sense when you consider both the obvious and hidden costs of a high rate of employee turnover.
One of the more obvious steps is fair compensation. It should go without saying that, after years of being treated as second-class employees, women first and foremost want to feel as equally valued as their male counterparts. Fair wages are just a start.
Fair compensation should also include bonuses and benefits. And women don’t want to feel like they will be punished for wanting a work/life balance. The lack of a flexible schedule is cited as the number one reason employees leave for other jobs, so companies should ensure they are able to accommodate their workers’ need to spend time with family or on other projects. Telecommuting, a compressed work week, collaborative scheduling and self-scheduling can all factor into employee happiness and job satisfaction. Maternity benefits, childcare, and maternity leave should be included in employment packages.
Greater gender balance in the workplace, especially in leadership positions, can pave the way for women to feel that they too can succeed. When women see other women rising within a company, they realize that it is possible for them to rise to senior positions as well.
To this end, the smart employer will consider introducing mentorship programs to encourage high-potential female employees to aspire to senior leadership roles. Women’s networks can be critical retention tools as well, particularly for employees at their mid-career level. Retraining and re-entry training for women who have temporarily left the workforce are also valuable tools in your retention box.
Professional development, career coaching, and grooming for bigger projects and promotions, as well as guidance regarding each woman’s career trajectory, are invaluable in retaining female employees.
Executive presence training is one option to consider. A 2012 Forbes article cited a study by the non-profit New York organization Center for Talent Innovation that said being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions. The article went on to say that “the 268 senior executives surveyed said ‘executive presence’ counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.”
Women who are trained to develop an executive-type persona in terms of gravitas – that is, confidence, poise under pressure and decisiveness – as well as communication and appearance become more confident and are better able to command a room, thereby clearing a path to high-stakes and high-visibility positions.
By utilizing some or all of these ideas, companies can benefit from a healthier and more balanced work environment. It just makes sense.
As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing. Before joining Celayix, Bimal was Vice President of Marketing at Faronics, a leading provider of IT solutions for the Education vertical where he helped grow revenue over 50% and launched exciting new solutions. Prior to that Bimal held senior marketing and product roles at technology companies such as Business Objects and McAfee Security where he gained significant international experience working with global companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Sony, HP, Orange, Telefonica and Ricoh.
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