Today’s businesses are investing more than ever in achieving a sustainable work/life balance for employees. Flexibility in corporate policies for both genders makes good business practice, often resulting in better productivity, greater work satisfaction, and higher retention rates. For women especially, reaching full potential both at home and at work can prove challenging as the demands of motherhood and other responsibilities outside work increasingly compete for time and attention. In order to reach their full potential in both realms, high-achieving women need the full support of their companies, and more specifically, of the people they work for directly.
Current Practices Often Fall Short
Keeping Women In, a recent study conducted by the Guidant Group, assessed the retention problem businesses face for key female talent. The study found a significant gap between the work/life blend women desire and their actual experiences. Although many businesses have made an effort to implement policies addressing this problem (tackling gender bias, extra maternity leave, and flextime policies, for example), these efforts often fall short when it comes to keeping women in the workforce. Almost 20% of women who want to come back to work after a brief hiatus never manage to do so, according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation.
Achieving a Sustainable Work-Life Blend
Because the realms of work and home are intrinsically linked, women need to find a blend that will enable them to reach their full potential in both arenas. Employers can make that possible by actively pursuing solutions that will address the problem both at the individual level and at the level of broader business practice. Possible solutions include:
- Proactive measures on the part of direct leaders to support career plans, create effective workload distribution, and encourage career progression
- Regular feedback
- Open discussions about specifics of work/life blend
- Flexible working hours
- Remote work opportunities for working mothers
- Sponsorship programs that advocate for career opportunities and promotions for women
Research demonstrates that companies who have women on the board outperform their competitors financially and they are more innovative. It’s in the best interest of businesses to find ways to support their top female talent in order to keep them on an upward career path. Keeping Women In suggests that 80% of the steps companies can take in this direction directly involve leaders in the workforce. Ultimately, it’s not just about company policy. It’s about creating a work environment that values and desires the contributions of high-achieving female workers and finding ways for them to achieve a sustainable work/life blend in order to reach their full potential.