Lack of work-life balance is causing women to quit. Better benefits can help

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Gender-parity in the workplace still remains elusive. While employers have made strides to attract and retain female employees, many still fail to foster work environments that support women in the workplace, experts say. Research finds that a key reason why women aren’t happy with their jobs is a lack of work-life balance.

Experts say offering benefits that encourage greater balance and creating a more inclusive culture can help employers attract and retain female employees.

A study published by the World Economic Forum found that 44% of respondents rank unconscious bias among managers and a lack of work-life balance as significant barriers to gender parity. Experts recommend that employers expand their benefits, root out sexist behavior and place women in leadership roles to create a more inclusive environment.

“Having women in positions of influence and power within an organization nets positive business outcomes,” says Lindsay Witcher, vice president of practice strategy at RiseSmart, a career development firm.

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With the unemployment rate hovering below 4%, the lowest it’s been in decades, employers must create a culture that makes women feel more comfortable, Witcher says.

Many large companies have leaders whose primary focus is diversity and inclusion. Having leaders in these positions, shows employees that management is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace culture, Witcher says.

Witcher notes that employers should prioritize holding conversations about benefits with their workforce. Flexible schedules tend to rank high, she says, but so do benefits for new parents. And not just maternity leave, she says.

“When I came back to work after my maternity leave, my husband was able to take some time off as part of a paternity leave program,” Witcher says. “And so for me, it just made the transition of going back to work so much easier because I knew our child was in good hands with one of his parents.”

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Some employers already have taken note and are expanding paid parental leave policies. Others are adding new offerings like breast milk shipping, fertility and adoption benefits and lactation rooms. For instance, Home Depot, News Corp. and TripAdvisor are among dozens of large companies that are offering breast milk shipping as a benefit to their employees. AIG and Cisco have added fertility and adoption benefits to their offerings.

These types of benefits signal to potential employees that a company is serious about fostering an environment that is welcoming towards women, Witcher says.

“Not only is this just the right thing to do, but doing these things results in a positive impact for businesses,” she says. “It's really a no-brainer.”

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Benefit management Voluntary benefits Benefit strategies Benefit communication Workplace culture Diversity and equality Workforce management