At the height of COVID-19, researchers for Women Lead Change (WLC) found that the women who served as the frontline defense against the pandemic were hardest hit by it as they disproportionately juggled its impact at work and at home. Many were driven from the workforce or took jobs with lower pay and/or fewer hours […]
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At the height of COVID-19, researchers for Women Lead Change (WLC) found that the women who served as the frontline defense against the pandemic were hardest hit by it as they disproportionately juggled its impact at work and at home. Many were driven from the workforce or took jobs with lower pay and/or fewer hours when schools closed and kids became homebound. With most children now back in the classroom, how are women faring as employers seeking to adapt to the pandemic’s new normal are calling moms back to the office? WLC recently set out to find out the answer in Phase Two of a two-year survey. It was first conducted by WLC in 2021 amid the full-blown pandemic and again in 2022 after lockdowns were lifted. “The findings from this new research underscore the need for employers to adapt to continue to recruit and retain an engaged workforce,” said WLC’s CEO Tiffany O’Donnell when the report was released in August. “Although there were slight improvements reported in mental health, challenges continue, just in new ways we may have not considered before.” The first report – “Challenges for Professional Women in The COVID-19 Pandemic” – was released in March 2021 and conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago. Its goal, WLC said, was to better understand how employers and communities could better support women during the “Women’s Recession.” The 2022 report, “Professional Women’s Challenges in the New Normal,” is an update on the issues facing women as they balance being back at work with homelife. Participation in the WLC survey was voluntary and limited to adult women working in the United States. It included 252 women between the ages of 30 and 49. An average of more than 95% of respondents had full-time jobs at the time they were surveyed in each of the two years. Like the 2021 version, the 2022 survey was again conducted in collaboration with Zhenyu Yuan, assistant professor of the Department of Managerial Studies at the U of I Chicago. Key takeaways from the second report that Mr. Yuan highlighted for the QCBJ were:
- “A lot of women reported that their work has become hybrid in nature. Although there are a lot of debates – from some high-profile companies – about whether their hybrid work will be discontinued, our report suggests hybrid work may be here to stay.”
- “Although a lot of participants noted the benefits of remote work, it also comes with costs – e.g., coordination problem; feelings of isolation. Companies will need to invest resources in addressing these downsides of remote work.”
- “Work-family conflict continues to be a challenge for professional women, especially for those who have more dependent children. To help women cope with work-family conflict, giving them flexibility and control over their schedule is key.”
- “Additionally, to increase retention, organizations need to provide tangible support for women’s career development; managers need to be more supportive of women’s work-life balance; because hybrid work may inadvertently reduce the visibility of women’s work contributions, managers need to be accurately aware of women’s actual workload and work contributions.”