The Pandemic Has Shifted Women’s Career Goals: 5 Tips to Support Them in the Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the world of work and the way people think about careers. Everything we knew was uprooted, upended, and no longer part of the “daily grind.” Workers were sent home, companies’ doors were shuttered, and everyone struggled to find a reason to keep working toward their career goals and focusing on professional development. 

According to Gartner HR Research, women have been deeply affected by these workplace shifts, in particular. 65% of women are now rethinking the place of work in their daily lives in light of the pandemic, and almost 70% of women with children say their values for life outside work have been altered by the pandemic.

Fortunately, despite the damage the pandemic has done, it has also created some new opportunities and solutions for the post-COVID workforce. To that end, let’s take a minute to reflect on women, specifically, and how the pandemic has changed their professional career and development goals. 

How Has the Pandemic Shifted Women’s Career Goals?

With everyone being sent home during lockdowns, women found plenty of time to reconsider their perspectives on their work, how it factors into their lives, and what they want moving forward. Women with children have especially expressed how their values have changed in light of life outside of work. These women are now seeking more autonomy, more flexibility, and a more hybrid approach to work, at the very least, if not a fully remote option. 

Gartner Research also found that while 65% of men were eager to go back to work, only 57% of women were. Additionally, over 50% of women reported the pandemic made them question the meaning behind and purpose of their work. Finding meaning in work has been a hot-button issue over the last year or so, and it is imperative that employers respond to these new demands by increasing flexibility and being more transparent about the importance and meaning of women’s jobs, in particular.

The Importance of This Shift

This shift in women’s career goals, along with every other work-related shift from the pandemic, needs to be carefully investigated and analyzed. Organizations need to rethink the office and focus on taking a more hybrid approach to their collaboration and teamwork. This will provide opportunities for more women to work remotely and ensure that companies can keep up so they aren’t losing their best assets. 

After all, studies show that

  • 1 in 3 employees say they would quit their jobs if they couldn’t continue working remotely
  • 90% say they’re just as productive at home, if not more so, than in the office
  • 71% expect a hybrid working option even after the pandemic is over

Hybrid work isn’t going anywhere. To keep up, your practices and expectations need to change. Keep reading to find out how. 

What Do Women Want from Their Jobs?

The hybrid workplace and increase of full-time remote work are going to require more opportunities for flexibility in scheduling and availability. Considering that nearly two-thirds of all women have increased their expectations of flexible work, organizations need to deliver by creating an atmosphere of trust where employees are empowered to choose a schedule that fits their lifestyle and other needs. 

Women want more appreciation, more flexibility, and especially more trust. The most successful companies right now are the ones hiring people and trusting them to do their jobs, regardless of schedules and time clocks. Women want an evolved, engaged culture that embraces the future of work. 

5 Tips to Support Women in the Workplace

Celebrate Work-Life Balance

The leading thing that women want to see in the workplace is a role that allows for better work-life balance. That includes giving them control over scheduling and offering perks like flexible PTO and no more tiered vacation weeks. Companies often fear employees will abuse these privileges, but studies have shown that when they’re offered, there are fewer absences and less burnout because people don’t feel trapped at work. 

Trade Visibility-Based Management for Autonomy

Micromanaging and having to “see” progress in the workplace are out and autonomy is in. Women want to be trusted and respected for what they can do, which means not reporting their schedules and the granular details of what they do in a day. 

Offer Stability and Job Security

The pandemic took away a lot of jobs. Even companies that are still in business had to lay people off—you cannot work remotely when your job is running machines at a factory or interacting with customers in a retail store. Today’s employees want to know they are getting into stable roles that offer upward development and secure their career position in the event of another pandemic or economic crisis. 

Increase Benefits or Income Significantly

Women also want jobs that are going to give them a proper pay raise and enhance their benefits. This includes offering flexible PTO and flex work schedules, but they need more than that. Make sure that you’re competitive with your salaries and paying people what they’re worth, even if they’re working remotely.

Offer a Diverse, Inclusive Culture 

Women are no longer content just going to work and doing their jobs—as with most employees of all genders, people want more these days. They want a company that offers a good culture, which means one that appreciates its employees and that embraces diversity and inclusion. Beyond gender, you should also be inclusive in every way possible, focusing on getting the right person for the role, regardless of anything else. 

Further Resources

Women in the job market know their value and they have a new set of benchmarks with which they’re sizing up their career moves and opportunities. The pandemic has reinforced the value of flexibility in creating the ideal work-life balance with hybrid remote options and more. For more help on supporting and elevating women in the workplace, see this KnowledgeCity article on how managers can support women in leadership roles. You can also check out this series of courses on Leadership Development for Women

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