- Many women report that the COVID-19 pandemic changed their perspective on work and its place in their lives, which could prompt changes to the ways in which employers design jobs and processes, consulting firm Gartner said in a March 23 analysis.
- In its October 2021 survey of 3,515 workers, Gartner found 65% of women respondents said the pandemic made them rethink work's place in their lives, and nearly 70% of women respondents who had children said they agreed that the pandemic has "changed how they value certain aspects of their life outside of work." Women also reported lower well-being than men in the survey, with fewer than half of women agreeing that they had enough energy for leisure activities.
- Employers might allow workers more control over their workdays and set aside time for both synchronous and asynchronous work, Gartner said, as well as set a minimum number of days per year that teams must gather in person. But other changes, such as choosing an outcome-based management structure and focusing on purpose-driven work, could also be helpful, per the firm.
To a degree, Gartner's findings mirror other recent analysis of the tensions caused by hybrid work and remote work since the pandemic began.
For example, increased flexibility has led to shifts that directly impact the effectiveness of traditional management styles, sources previously told HR Dive. Managers who rely on a face-to-face approach and frequent physical interaction may encounter varying degrees of resistance from their direct reports. In its statement, Gartner cited past research that showed hybrid work teams performed better than in-person teams in metrics such as agility and risk-taking.
But the firm's research also touches upon the particular experiences of women in the U.S. labor market for the past two years, during which the pandemic disrupted the careers of many. Women continue to face heightened levels of career uncertainty, according to management consulting company LHH, which found in a survey that women were more anxious than men about their next career move.
Employers have also focused on women who left the workforce entirely due to the pandemic, although late 2021 research by Metlife and Rainmakers CSI found 63% of women who did so planned to return. Employers like Schneider Electric have developed return-to-work programs that aim to attract this talent segment specifically.
Gartner noted the importance of purpose-driven work in appealing to women, though others have found employers may be failing to deliver on such initiatives.
"Women are tired and due to the pandemic, many are lacking access to the re-energizing activities that provide personal fulfillment," Alexia Cambon, research director in Gartner's HR practice, said in a statement. "In the absence of a life outside work, the pressure grows for work to be worth the burn-out. Employers must start redesigning work to be a unique value proposition in and of itself."