As the world celebrates International Women’s Day later this week, it’s a great opportunity to put a spotlight on one of the key issues affecting women in the workforce—stress. Or, more specifically, the huge stress gap that many employers may not realize exists between their male and female frontline staff.
According to research, women are twice as likely to suffer from severe work-related stress than men, and the American Psychological Association reports that this gap only widens more year by year. Two key drivers to this are 1) the imbalance in domestic duties, causing women to not only have to worry about balancing work with household chores, but also feel guilty in times when work get prioritized, and 2) work-related emotional labour, which comes with the pressure to outperform gender prejudices and adhere to a more male-orientated idea of workplace success.
In light of the January 2020 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states that women now make up the majority of the workforce, it’s time employers addressed this stress gap to provide more engaging, rewarding and empowering work experiences for the females in their frontline. Here are a few ways to get started:
Provide adaptable shift schedules
One of the things employers can do is to allow female employees to adjust their work schedules easily. Doing so helps minimize their stress concerning work-life balance as they flexibly adjust their breaks or days off to accommodate certain household or family responsibilities. A mobile-first employee tool proves as an effective solution here, enabling these frontline staff to digitally request shift swaps anywhere they are and without the need for slow, paper-heavy processes. With information centralized in one digital system, managers can also monitor changes in schedules in real-time and reassign shifts as needed.
Ensure they are always in the loop
When communications remain largely offline, companies pose a big risk on staff missing out on important updates and announcements, causing a communication breakdown. When such situations occur, employees get confused about new information or policies and consequently feel more stressed due to misinformation or miscommunication. Consider introducing an employee platform that can help ensure transparent communications by enabling digital, real-time company-wide announcements that reaches staff in different locations and shifts instantly. With this system, everybody gets the right information at the same time.
Clarify tasks and responsibilities
Research shows that one of the reasons why women feel stressed at work is because they are often assigned tasks known as “invisible work.” These are “unofficial” or “soft skill” tasks, such as comforting a colleague or welcoming a new employee, that usually constitutes emotional labour and often falls on women because they are assumed naturally better at doing these things. Employers need to breakdown this work assumption and ensure a clearer task assignment system within the team. Workplace tools that help with task management and delegation through checklists, digitized workflows, and clear due dates can help everyone manage what they need to do better. By using these tools, companies will prevent their female frontline from feeling overwhelmed with extra work or unclear job expectations in their roles.
Foster an environment for strong work relationships
According to research, women who have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged. Having someone to support them adds a positive experience for women in the workplace, as these people become their support system when they feel stressed or to help celebrate their daily achievements. Employers can prevent the efforts of their female employees going unnoticed by implementing a company-wide public commendation system, allowing hard work to be recognized easily and transparently. Doing so will help women feel more appreciated at work, knowing that her efforts do not go unnoticed and that she has the entire workplace rallying behind her to accomplish her goals and celebrate her wins.