Finding the Right Fit: How Gender Diversity Helps Retain Your Top Talent
By: Karle Stinehour
(Estimated Reading Time 5 min)
Filling knowledge gaps and building awareness in the workplace. It’s how DigitalChalk serves the small to midsized business segment. Recently, we navigated the legal and financial risks of sex-based discrimination and how to mitigate them. We also considered how gender diversity in the workplace can increase productivity. Today we conclude our brief series on gender diversity with an overview of how nurturing a gender diverse workplace can help retain your top talent.
Tenure for both men and women in the private and public sectors has decreased in recent years. In 2014, the median tenure was at 4.5 years for women, dropping down to 4.0 years in 2016. For men in that same period the tenure rates dropped from 4.7 years to 4.3 years. These rates don’t include the average tenure of younger women, which is 2.8 years (Source: News Release, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor). Though tenure rates have dropped for both men and women, the statistics continue to show the rates are consistently lower for women. Obviously, many factors contribute to these drops in retention rates: the availability of jobs, economic fluctuation between growth and recession, and the fact that sometimes employees simply aren’t the right fit for a company. Regardless of the reasons, there is a cost when a business cannot retain its employees, especially if those employees rank among the company’s top talent.
We asked DigitalChalk CEO Russ Stinehour, with 22 years of experience as a business owner, to weigh in on how devastating the loss of top talent can be to all aspects of your business.
- Low Hiring Success Rate: The cost of a low hiring success rate is largely lost time. Numbers vary, but employee training can take anywhere from six months to two years. If a fully-trained employee leaves, not only is their training time lost, but the time you could spend growing the business is lost as you find and train another top talent.
- Hiring and Firing Costs and Risks: It takes money to hire and train your top talent. When an employee leaves your company or is fired, your business loses the financial investment in this employee.
- Time to Market: The time it takes to hire and train a top talent who then doesn’t stay is time you could have spent producing and selling your goods in the marketplace. Not only do you lose the top talent, you lose valuable time and an opportunity to grow your business.
- Customer Satisfaction: Customers build relationships and get comfortable working with individual employees at your company. If one of those employees leaves for whatever reason, that customer relationship must be rebuilt. And it is possible that your customer may not be satisfied with the replacement and look for business elsewhere. Loss of top talent can result in loss of business relationships and potential loss of business.
- Lost Innovation: Your top talent isn’t just the hardest workers. It’s also the innovative ones. Strong businesses run on creativity and innovation. If you lose top talent, you could also lose the creativity and innovation that keep your business running strong over time.
Why is retaining top talent among female employees so challenging? Some of the typical reasons stand out. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) lists “work-life balance, maternity leave, unequal pay, and differential ambitions” as some of the typical reason that women leave employment. But Harvard Business Review also posits a nontypical, yet insightful reason why women leave the companies where they work: “the quality of day-to-day apprenticeship experience”. (Source: “How We Closed The Gap Between Men’s and Women’s Retention Rates,” Harvard Business Review)
So what does this mean? According to the Harvard Business Review, “ the working relationships of junior team members learning alongside experienced colleagues, is critical to mastering the consulting craft and succeeding in professional services.” If the day-to-day apprenticeship experience for women is somehow less satisfactory than that of men, the result could be the loss of female top talent.
To ensure a gender-diverse workplace dedicated to effective day-to-day apprenticeship, The BCG suggests the following
- Improve Connectedness: Take personal interest in your female employees. Guide them to be successful in a manner that is relational rather than transactional.
- Use Strengths-Based Development: Take note of your female employees’ strengths and place them in positions where they can use those strengths to the benefit of the company.
- Acknowledge a Range of Effective Communication Styles: Don’t just adhere to one style of communication. WIth a more gender-diverse workplace, you will hear many different ideas and different styles of communication. Taking them all seriously will help you “build rapport” and let your employees know that their thoughts and ideas are valued. (Source: “How We Closed The Gap Between Men’s and Women’s Retention Rates,” Harvard Business Review)
DigitalChalk Can Help
Retaining top talent saves you time and money, allows you to focus on selling your goods and services, and increases customer satisfaction, so obviously it ’s good for your bottom line. Additionally, in a workplace where employees feel valued for their differences and their contributions, creativity and innovation will flourish.
- Strategize: Make gender diversity initiatives and apprenticeship programs for your female employees business decisions.
- Listen: Give credence and value to the thoughts, ideas, and suggestions of all employees. A gender-diverse workplace creates an environment where new ideas can grow. As a result, your company will continue innovating.
- Educate: Create ongoing training programs for your employees so that they can develop their current strengths and discover new ones.
- Reward: Always find ways to reward your employees’ good work. This could look like a bonus, a raise, a promotion, an assignment to a leadership position on a project, flexibility in working hours, or any other of the myriad ways to show them they are appreciated. The principle is simple. If your employees feel valued, they will have greater motivation to work hard and creatively, and will be more to likely to want to stay at your company.
Let us help with some heavy lifting. The online training courses from our on-demand library can help bolster your learning and development program in this important area.