Employee engagement is a vital tool for businesses – engaged employees are notably more productive, happier, and more likely to act in ways beneficial to the company. Despite this, many businesses aren't ensuring their employees are engaged – and they're especially ignoring the women in the company.
But just how can you engage your female employees? The secret is less complex than it seems.
Be Their Ideal Company
This sounds like a challenge, but many women still face harassment and other insidious forms of sexism in the workplace. From being passed over for promotions because 'they might have children' to not seeing many other friendly female faces every day in the office, women may feel undervalued in comparison to the men in the company. How can you fix this? Simple – make an active effort to address these issues within your company. If your company becomes known as a place that enacts positive change for women, they are more likely to be engaged, productive – and not to leave.
Now you know the major secret, let's look at some practical ways you can implement this.
How do you talk?
How do you talk to your employees when in meetings (both group and individual)? Many business leaders draw on traditionally masculine metaphors – lots of sport-themed talk. Whilst many women enjoy sport, it still highlights a masculine environment, so try to use more neutral metaphors and you'll find many women speak up far more.
How flexible are you?
Whilst both women and men work better with flexible work arrangements, it's vitally important for women – especially those with children. If a woman has to take the day off with a sick child, how does your company respond? If it's counting it as an unpaid sick day, then you're losing a brilliant chance to increase employee engagement. If it's possible for them to work from home for a day, then they can remain engaged in their job as well as in their home life – leaving you a happy, productive employee who feels valued within their role.
Making goals or making time?
Which do you prefer your employees aim for – a certain amount of work done per day, or a certain amount of hours. People of all genders work better in goal-orientated companies, as it gives flexibility. As mentioned above, this is especially important for the engagement of women employees. This is not necessarily practical in customer-focused jobs (such as retail or catering) but in admin, computing and other similar jobs, if an employee can finish the necessary amount of work in five hours, then they shouldn't be penalised for this – but rather encouraged.
How many employees can do their job?
There's a fine line to walk here. An employee should never feel as though they're unneeded – it shouldn't be possible for them to leave and someone else to just step into their place. However, they also shouldn't feel pressured to come in regardless of their situation. Cross-training is an excellent solution to this – if employees can cover each other for a few days, it allows them to feel like they have flexible options. Women who may need to pick a child up early from school or similar situations aren't pressured to come in and this lack of stress increases employee engagement.
Who are you promoting?
Are you hiring senior positions from inside or outside the company? The best way to maintain employee engagement is to promote internally, as it increases the career improvement options for your employees – meaning they're less likely to look elsewhere. However, in a primarily male company, the opposite is true. Women feel less engaged if there are few senior women, so hiring externally to increase to number of visible, competent, senior women is a great way to ensure your company is the ideal company for women to work at.
Whilst most employee engagement tips will work for all genders, focusing on flexibility, giving women vital roles and consciously creating a neutral, rather than masculine atmosphere will increase the happiness and productivity of your female staff.