Growth trends for women in the workforce are surpassing men in almost all areas except for wages.
The ADP Research Institute¨ Workforce Vitality Report (WVR) for the second quarter of 2017 highlights the steadily improving growth metrics for women in the workforce. The WVR index, which is created using metrics including job holders' wages, job holders' hours worked, job switchers' wages, and total employment, concluded the quarter with women (117.2) having a yearly growth of 4.5 percent outpacing men (113.6) by 30 basis points. Forward-thinking organizations will find it prudent to examine this evolution and implement measures to augment existing operating models, policies and programs to accommodate this trend.
Women Outpace Men in Year-Over-Year Employment Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there are 74.6 million women in the workforce representing 47 percent of the U.S. civilian labor population, as of July 2017. The WVR for the second quarter of 2017 shows that women have led year-over-year employment growth over men every quarter since the first quarter of 2015 except the current quarter. Women had four consecutive quarters of 3 percent yearly growth for the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to 1.3 percent, 1.3 percent, 1.1 percent and 0.9 percent for men, respectively outpacing men. The differential reverses to 1.7 percent versus 2.1 percent by the second quarter of 2017.
Employees with tenure between three to five years enjoy the highest improvement in workforce vitality as the index reached an all-time high at 136.4 during the second quarter of 2017.
Women Still Lag Behind Men in Comparable Wages
Women earned 82 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2016 with median weekly earnings of $749 compared to $915 for men, according to the BLS. Women earned more than men in just four out of the 120 occupations: sewing machine operator, food/fast food service, teachers assistant and counselor.
The largest deficit in comparable pay was for female personal financial advisers with the median weekly earnings at $953 compared to $1,714, representing 56 percent of what men earned. Female insurance sales agents earned $676, or 58 percent, of what male insurance agents earned at $1,166 median weekly income.
WVR Yearly Job-Switching Rate
The job-switching rate for women has also been higher for every quarter since the first quarter of 2015, reaching 27.9 percent in the second quarter of 2017. Job-switching rates fall dramatically as income rises. The highest levels of job-switching occur for incomes under $20,000 at 61.7 percent, the highest since the first quarter of 2015, and decline to 7.6 percent for incomes of $75,000 and greater. Part-time workers experienced a 58.5 percent switching rate compared to 10.9 percent for full-time workers in the second quarter of 2017.
The Evolution of Working Moms
Working mothers with children under 18 represent 71 percent of the female workforce and are the primary/sole earners for 40 percent of those households compared to just 11 percent in 1960, according to the BLS. The unemployment rate of married mothers with infants was 3 percent in 2016, and the unemployment rate for mothers with children under six was 64.7 percent compared to 75 percent for mothers with children 6-17 years of age, according to the BLS. Organizations should take note of this growing segment and evaluate programs that can help alleviate friction points stemming from home and work-life balance issues. For instance, consider work from home policies, child care programs, home maintenance incentives and personal or family day programs.
Alleviate Stress With Financial Planning Programs
According to Bank of America, 67 percent of millennials (compared to 32 percent of baby boomers) state financial stress interferes with their ability to focus and be productive at work, spending an average of four hours per week on personal finances. Women surpass men in worrying about working longer than they'd hoped and having to support family members, according to Bank of America. Consider providing financial planning programs to your employees to help alleviate stress. Bank of America reports that 50 percent of stressed employees would benefit from regularly scheduled financial planning meetings and 86 percent of employees would participate in a financial education program provided by their employer.
Evolution of the Workforce of the Future
The evolution of women in the workforce drives the transformation of the organization of the future and shouldn't be taken for granted. Organizations that vigilantly apply foresight to accommodate for the changing dynamics can benefit from improved efficiencies, productivity, retention and morale. Embracing diversity and gender equality with conscientious effort can convey the image of an organization that cares for its workers on multiple levels with compassion and integrity. These intangibles are the qualities that foster loyalty, reciprocate commitment and most importantly embody the essence of the workplace of the future.