- From the job market downturn to school closures, the coronavirus pandemic's impact has caused workers to modify practices such as asking for flexibility and pay raises, according to an Indeed report released March 2. The findings indicated workers' feelings about asking for benefits vary in regard to gender and age.
- Amid the pandemic, many women are asking for more flexibility in the workplace. For example, the greater majority (80.1%) of women said they felt comfortable asking for flexibility on work location, compared to 72.6% before the pandemic. However, women ages 54-65 felt about less comfortable requesting accommodations in hours worked — a 10.1% drop from pre-pandemic levels. "The flexibility gains of younger women is probably an effect of the pandemic rather than a slack labor market; often, these women have children," according to the report. While men showed less than 2% increases in comfort with asking for flexibility on location or schedule, and became "slightly less comfortable" in asking for flexibility in overall work hours, according to Indeed.
- Both men and women have become less comfortable asking for a raise or promotion during the pandemic, most likely due to a downturn in the labor market, according to the report. Prior to the pandemic, the greater majority (81%) of men and 66% of women said they were comfortable or somewhat comfortable asking for a raise. However, amid the pandemic, those percentages dropped to 74% of men and 58% of women, Indeed found. In asking for a promotion, previously, 82% of men were comfortable doing so compared to 70% of women. But there's been a 4.5% decrease for men and an 8.5% decrease for women, the report found. The survey of 2,000 American adults was conducted in December 2020.
Job loss as a result of the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, according to The National Women's Law Center (NWLC).
For example, between January and December 2020, "almost 2.1 million women left the labor force, including 564,000 Black women and 317,000 Latinas," NWLC stated in a January report. "Since February 2020, women have lost over 5.4 million net jobs, and account for 55% of overall net job loss since the start of the crisis," according to NWLC.
Gender parity, "has slipped further" as a result of the pandemic, and isn't just confined to the pay differential between men and women, according to Indeed. "Indicators of equality in the broader labor market" also include "the relative comfort of men and women in asking for work-related benefits," the report found.
Lack of childcare options and school closures means many working parents need flexibility in schedules. Best practices is for employers to listen to the needs of their caregiving employees, experts say. "Ask parents what they need," Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of HR services provider Reverb, told HR Dive in a previous interview. "You don't have to have the solution. You just have to be good at asking the questions." However, working women will be impacted the most amid a child care crisis, experts said during a panel discussion hosted by The Brookings Institution in August. Stronger paid leave policies that include paid sick days and also paid family leave to care for sick loved ones is crucial, panelist Tina Tchen, CEO of Time's Up Foundation, said.
The pandemic has caused workers to become more comfortable with asking for flexibility, but it's uncertain if this trend will continue post-pandemic, Indeed found. "If employers become less accommodative once the pandemic is under control, it will signal that they are not meeting the needs of women, which could prompt some women to leave the labor force," according to the report.