The long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have yet to fully unfold. However, changes like the economic fallout, a large number of unemployed or furloughed resources, and the budding hybrid work culture are prominent features of a new normal. Today’s employees have had ample time to reflect and change course at a time when returning to work is once again being normalized.
Recruiters understand the importance of employee motivation better as burnout has pushed many employees to their limits. However, data from McKinsey & Company shows that women feel more burned out than men. This disparity may be the biggest reason why women are leaning towards an imminent career change or leaving the workforce altogether.
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Women in the Workplace: Some History
Whether you blame job hopping on the unprecedented changes brought on by the pandemic or start-up culture, Gen Z’s quest for instant gratification should be of no surprise. However, since 1986, women have been consistently switching careers more than men.
This was brought to light by LinkedIn data which shows that women work an average of three jobs over the course of their career, compared to men’s 1.57. What is it that influences more women to switch careers and why does it keep happening?
Why Are Women Switching Careers?
The pandemic played a significant role in changing women’s perspectives about their careers and their determination to ensure a better future for themselves. Minor setbacks like a workplace investigation, a delayed promotion, or plans to start a family aren’t holding them back anymore.
After ample time to self-reflect, women are taking the pandemic as an opportune time to fully embrace change. Here are some reasons why they are opting for newer paths.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
That women report a higher burnout rate than men is a direct indication that they tend to assume more collective responsibility in balancing their professional and domestic lives. In many cases, the definitive reason for women switching careers is an effort to maintain a work-life balance.
The disproportionate amount of work, whether professional or in the realm of childcare or house chores, has only increased since the pandemic. Many women prefer to look for a workplace that can offer flexible hours or a profession that allows them to work from home.
Such flexibility can even trump other employee benefits. Accordingly, when hiring for specialized skill jobs, most mortgage recruiters understand that offering competitive pay, flexible hours, a hybrid setup, and other substantial benefits such as daycare can help boost female employee retention for their organization.
Unsteady jobs are common for both men and women. However, women are more likely to find themselves in volatile industries and roles. Shorter hours, lack of employment contracts, and no statutory right for certain classes of employees can make it difficult for women to hold on to steady jobs that pay well. As such, when women shift jobs or careers, it isn’t always by choice.
One of the most obvious disadvantages to them is the lack of consistent maternity policies for employed women. This can force women out of their current roles, and/or make it difficult for them to return to work after childbirth.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
A post-pandemic AllBright survey indicates that more than 60% of women are planning to shift gears in their careers and one in four are now self-employed. Empowered women have change on their minds and starting their own business is one of the most highly-noted personal trends.
More than half of the women who took part in the survey believe that the COVID-19 pandemic provided long-term professional opportunities for them. It is heartening to see that women have found an opportunity in a crisis and are striving to turn the tide in their favor.
Industry-Driven Career Switch
Guy Berger, the Principal economist at LinkedIn observed that many women work in industries that experience high employee turnover, affecting them in turn. The reasons for this are manifold. Above all, women are still struggling to realize gender equality and combat microaggressions in the workplace.
In both centralized and decentralized recruitment processes, they often get sidelined and aren’t afforded the same opportunities as men. For example, there is a stark disconnect between white employees and women of color, and there is often much less focus on DEI policies and racial equity.
Incidents of Informal Work
ILO and Gallup conducted a survey in 2016 which showed that a staggering 70% of women chose to work in paid jobs than caring for their families or doing both simultaneously. Often, women take up more underrecognized work, in residential and professional settings. Women spend over three times more time on unpaid work than their male counterparts.
The Women in the Workplace McKinsey report observed that women senior leaders make more consistent efforts to uphold DEI policies in the workplace than men. However, they usually don’t get any formal recognition for it. As a consequence, companies that fail to formally recognize such efforts see a much lower female employee retention rate.