What Can Stop the Great Resignation? Answer: Focus on women-friendly practices and purpose

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, I wanted to call attention to the crisis being experienced by women in the workforce as a consequence of the pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started more than two years ago, we have seen the global workforce change in ways we couldn’t imagine. Many experts believe that hybrid work is here to stay and we have seen the highest resignation numbers in U.S. history. The current workforce wants more than a paycheck. This is as much an economic issue as a social issue.

We have been hearing about the Great Resignation but there is little reported on the extreme impact it is having on women. The pandemic has exacerbated existing stressors, as mostly women took on additional childcare and family responsibilities while maintaining full-time work, now working from home.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, nationally more than 2.5 million women left the workforce during the first year of the pandemic, compared to 1.8 million men. Women have returned to the workforce at a slower rate than men. According to the Center for American Progress, in an October 2020 report, if moms do not come back into the workforce, it will cost our country $64.5 billion. 

It doesn’t appear that they are coming back yet, with employment numbers continuing to plummet. In March 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 10 million mothers living with their school-age children in the United States were not actively working.

In a December 2021 report published by Milwaukee-based Kane Communications Group assessing the state of Working Women in Wisconsin, they found that employers that attract today’s working women offer benefits such as paid parental leave, family-supporting programs and flexible work schedules. Beyond flexibility, 88% of the women polled said they wanted to work for companies that are purpose-driven in addition to producing high-quality products and services.

In a December 2021 national report called, Surviving Pandemic Motherhood there were five key recommendations that employers can do to attract and retain working moms.

What must employers do to stop this workforce crisis? 

    1. Provide increased opportunities for remote work and flexible schedules
    2. Create workplace culture that supports working parents
    3. Offer childcare subsidies and/or work-based childcare solutions
    4. Provide resources to support mental health
    5. Ensure equitable opportunities for advancement combat workforce discrimination against mothers

What is your company doing to create an organizational culture that supports working women? We can and must turn the Great Resignation into the Great Transformation of the workplace.