One of the secrets to getting the most from your employees is understanding the challenges they face, not only in the workplace but in the rest of their lives. A comprehensive new report, Women & the Workplace, by Inforum and Sphere Trending has some insights on a key group of employees: women.
The recent recession had been dubbed a “mancession” as men lost jobs in record numbers. By comparison, the study found, women fared better at keeping jobs (however, men are faring better in the current recovery). Not only that, but “Single, childless women in their 20s are more likely than their male counterparts to graduate from college,” says Sphere Trending CEO Maxine Lauer. “That demographic segment is going to be where a lot of the new young talent will come from in years ahead.”
Overall, some 70 percent of U.S. women now work outside the home, and one in four married women earn more than their husbands. What else do you need to know about today’s female employees? The study examined women in three age groups—Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Each faced special challenges:
Gen Y: Overall, this age group is doing great. They’re out-earning their male counterparts and embracing technology and social media as tools for both business and personal life. In fact, 53 percent identified themselves as early adopters of technology, and women were more likely than men (32 percent vs. 24 percent) to use social media to network and connect with co-workers. Younger women believe work-life balance is crucial and are less likely than older generations to sacrifice their personal lives for a job. Instead, they’re using tools like flextime, remote work and mobile devices to get it all done.
Gen X: Stress is the key word for this age group, which has more family responsibilities than Gen Y. Even though men are taking on more duties at home, most of the childcare and housework still falls on Gen X women, who may also be dealing with elder care. Gen X has high standards and these women often feel like they’re letting down their families and their bosses, satisfying no one. In the workplace, Gen X’s strength is “brokering” between Gen Y and Boomer employees and serving as a facilitator to smooth the generation gap.
Boomers: Boomers face many of the same issues as Gen X. Although their children are generally adults, the economy has pushed many of those adult children back into the nest, leaving Boomers in a tough position. With Americans living longer, even the oldest Boomers are often caring for aging parents, which can lead to lost productivity and greater stress. At the same time, Boomers may feel they’re getting pushed aside or left behind by younger employees, especially as Gen X employees rise up the ladder.
How can you help your female employees succeed? As with many employee motivation issues, the key is understanding what they need. That will vary from age group to age group, from life stage to life stage, and from person to person.
If your workplace is filled with young women, allowing remote work and making sure they have the mobile technology they need to work anytime, anyplace can be key. Be more focused on results, not on hours spent in the office.
If your team is mostly moms, flexibility to handle family responsibilities is most important. Like Gen X, they’ll appreciate being measured on their results, not the hours clocked.
If you’re dealing with Boomers, be aware they may be reluctant to share their challenges, especially eldercare. Being sensitive, providing resources to help them and finding ways to let them share their knowledge and experience with others on your staff can keep them feeling valued as members of your team.
Generational Women Photo via Shutterstock