Gender imbalance in the office continues – new study

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A global survey of 11,000 deskless employees has revealed a continuing imbalance between men’s and women’s experiences in the workplace – with workforce management experts Quinyx calling for organisations to make 2022 a year of cultural transformation.

The Quinyx study found that women continue to fare worse than male colleagues on a range of factors relating to their employee experience.

These include overall happiness with their work environment, how comfortable they are speaking to bosses on issues such as pay, and whether they’ve gone to work sick as they’re not able to afford time off.

The UK findings revealed that just 27% of female workers are comfortable discussing pay rises or wage disparities with their managers, for example, and 46% of female employees don’t believe there are a lot of job opportunities open to them based on their skills (compared to 40% and 36% of male workers, respectively).

Additionally, in most of the 11 countries surveyed, including the UK, women are less likely than male workers to have received help with career progression from their managers – such as discussing specific steps towards promotion, or being provided with a mentor.

Quinyx chief HR officer Toma Pagojute said: “An employee’s overall experience is made up of numerous parts, and if women’s experiences are consistently falling short across the board, then we need to ask why.”

She added that the findings point to a need for “a sustained shift in organisations’ priorities” and that 2022 presents a unique opportunity for companies, following the disruptions of the last two years, to “redress the balance and get employee engagement and wellbeing right for everyone.”

The UK findings of the Quinyx State of the Deskless Workforce report also revealed:

  • 63% of female employees have considered quitting their job because they’re unhappy with their work environment (51% of male employees). This rises to 71% of female hospitality workers.
  • Women are more likely to feel pressured by co-workers into taking shifts they don’t want to take (45% female / 33% male).
  • 60% of female workers have been to work sick because they couldn’t afford to take time off (49% of male workers).
  • Just 25% of female workers say their manager has shared specific steps towards their promotion, and 18% say their manager has identified a mentor for them (30% and 25% for male workers). Women working in transportation & warehousing and retail are even less likely to have discussed steps to promotion (13% and 19% respectively).

Toma continued: “Our research highlights a huge opportunity for organisations to make 2022 the year of significant workplace change. After the upheaval and uncertainty of the last two years, it’s time to move forward. We have a unique window now to re-set and create a sea change that can empower all workers, particularly women, who continue to feel the effects of long-term inequalities.

“There’s a lot to address, but if organisations put people at the forefront of business strategy and operations, and managers lead by example by considering employee engagement at every step, then changes will start to become ingrained.

“Moreover, in light of understaffing issues that continue to affect many industries, it’s in businesses’ best interests to look after staff and help retain them.”

Toma’s advice for organisations looking to improve employee engagement and wellbeing in 2022, is:

  1. Adopt a flexible approach.Our research shows that more than half of UK employees have missed out on planned leisure time and events due to work; additionally, around a third say they would prefer a flexible schedule over higher pay. The pandemic brought greater awareness of the possibilities of flexible working for office-based roles but we would love to see flexible approaches being considered for deskless workers too. The recent announcement of a four-day week trial is positive – and while this isn’t an option for all, it’s encouraging that the dialogue is changing.

An initial step might be introducing a company-wide respect policy, so staff know that requests for time off or to change shifts will be received without judgement.

  1. Really get to know your staff.It’s great that employers are bringing in policies such as ‘stay interviews’; some are even checking in on staff sleep habits to ensure wellbeing. Sleep check-ins are optional, of course, but promoting the link between health and wellbeing, and how people feel and perform at work can only be a positive step. Managers might also want to introduce wellness days – giving staff flexibility to take leave when they need to focus on their wellness, aside from their traditional holidays.
  2. Utilise technology– workforce management software lets managers see where staffing gaps need plugging and where resource can be better spent. Using tools that enable employees to implement shift changes themselves might feel like relinquishing control but can give business leaders more time to focus on the bigger picture.
  3. Reward great performance and loyalty.Only half of UK workers say they feel that their work is valued by their manager, with most of these believing their boss sees them as a disposable or temporary resource.  Regular acknowledgements and rewards don’t need to be big or expensive and can go a long way when it comes to staff retention.
  4. Make your people your priority.Ultimately, employees are any business’s best asset. Employee engagement and wellbeing needs to be at the heart of everyday operations and ingrained throughout a business’s culture if we are to see a significant change.
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    Lisa Carter

    All stories by: Lisa Carter