Changing Aspirations Of Women Employees

There is a need to address their mental health, wellness and career development needs through counseling programmes, facilities like daycare and greater flexibility


The Covid-19 crisis not only affected physical health but also mental health and well-being, especially among women. Many long-standing challenges women faced at the workplace were exacerbated by the global health crisis, as they strived to balance professional responsibilities alongside new domestic demands.

It quickly became clear that there weren't adequate safety nets in place. Additional support in the areas of healthcare, childcare and in the workplace became essential, not only to allow career success but also for mental wellbeing. Companies have realised that they must reassess their policies and priorities to retain and attract women employees.

Prioritizing mental health

The demands of remote working and home front on women employees during this pandemic have negatively affected their health, work and economic wellbeing. Over 65 percent of working women believe the pandemic has made things worse for them, according to CNBC and Survey Monkey’s new Women at Work survey. The level of burnout — especially among women — has also affected their productivity.

To ensure the mental well-being of their employees, companies must adopt a systemic approach rather than take reactive measures. For example, at HGS, we’ve an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that provides counselling and lifestyle management advice for our employees and their immediate family members. EAP has significantly helped our people in improving their mental wellbeing.

It would help to pay close attention to factors that trigger negative emotions. Organisations can improve mental wellbeing in the following ways:

ü Recognise that mental health is an issue and normalise conversations around it.

ü Drive mental health awareness and create an internal committee to address issues among employees.

ü Provide professional support and mentoring. When employees hesitate to open up in front of colleagues, a third party can sometimes help.

ü Offer 360-degree programmes to improve mental, physical, emotional and financial health.

Ensuring growth opportunities

Mental well-being is also linked to career opportunities. Historically, women have faced many challenges in this regard due to various domestic factors. However, they are increasingly choosing to grow

professionally. The tech industry has encouraging trends to offer. There has been a 10 per cent rise in the number of women working in India’s technology sector. According to NASSCOM, women constitute 35 percent of the tech workforce today, much higher than the 24 percent across other industries.

Diversity inspires creativity and innovation. Research proves that businesses with greater gender diversity do well in terms of productivity, innovation, profits and shareholder returns. Therefore, providing opportunities for the professional advancement of women employees is not only a good thing to do but also the right thing to do.

Here are some ways in which organisations can help:

ü Flexible work policies: Remote working and flexible work hours allow employees to accommodate personal responsibilities such as childcare, parental care and education. They ensure women have greater control over their work while balancing personal responsibilities.

ü Sound maternity and family-friendly policies: Such measures help employees maintain self-sufficiency and consistency, thus improving satisfaction, engagement and retention.

ü Learning and development (L&D) opportunities: L&D has become a major factor for the growth and retention of women in organisations. Companies are designing various innovative methods of learning to engage employees and encourage them to expand their skillsets. Many organisations, including us, have designed learning modules that cater exclusively to women. They cover personality development, skill enhancement and other leadership programmes.

ü Mentorship opportunities: To see examples of women breaking the barriers is hugely empowering. It is also an opportunity to allow women to relate to and learn from one another across levels in an organisation. Structured mentorship programmes allow for this. In addition, they provide a chance to female employees to understand how best to navigate work-life situations and nurture aspirations to grow.

Women have been steadily breaking biases and stereotypes. They have not only been successful employees but also successful entrepreneurs. Today, jobs that offer growth opportunities while ensuring mental wellbeing are a priority for many. Businesses everywhere would do well to act accordingly.

(The article appeared in the June-2022 issue of BW People publication, penned down by Partha DeSarkar, Group CEO, Hinduja Global Solution)

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