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The Great Realignment: Building a supportive workplace for women

Flexibility is one of the most important considerations for employers.

For women who desire a healthy life balance, the workplace can present many obstacles. The COVID-19 pandemic acutely exposed these challenges, and a flood of women—2.3 million to be exact—left the workforce in 2021.

This sudden shift put the focus on workplace culture as employers find ways to retain and attract women who are rethinking roles as caregivers, parents, partners, and community members.

“We’re seeing a great realignment of priorities as women work through compassion fatigue and burnout,” said Rosecrance Vice President of Human Resources Kristin Hamblock. “The pandemic’s stress is bringing their concerns to the forefront. That is creating a great opportunity for business leaders to listen to employees and make tangible changes that will ease the burden on their women colleagues.”

Flexibility is one of the most important considerations for employers. As a behavioral healthcare organization with most of its workforce in direct care or onsite support roles, Rosecrance has enhanced longstanding policies to allow greater flexibility when possible and added new options for staff to fit work into their lives. Innovations include:

  • Expanded considerations for temporary schedule changes
  • Options to job share with co-workers
  • Temporary transitions to part-time status
  • More allowances for temporary leaves of absences beyond legal requirements

Like many employers, Rosecrance adopted work-from-home options for staff not involved in direct client care. This has given flexibility to team members in positions such as accounting, human resources, client screening, and IT to keep staff whose life circumstances were best served by this arrangement.

A second consideration is to encourage belonging, which is the goal of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) practices. With events of the past two years, it is a good time to review policies and practices to make sure they are inclusive. This can be done internally, or by an outside resource such as an employment attorney or DEIB expert.

A last consideration is transparent communication of policies and values. While all-staff communications are a staple of the workplace, equip team leaders to continually share information with staff and work to develop open-door policies for conversations. Leaders should model company values and discuss how they have utilized resources that helped them through tough times. When employees trust the organization will work to find a mutually beneficial solution to a situation, they will be likelier to stay with the company.

“Take the opportunity to make sure your organization’s culture is what you want it to be going forward,” Hamblock said. “With some thoughtful planning and effort, you can make work a place where employees, especially women, are truly valued for who they are.”

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