Employers across the UK are facing a growing talent shortage; according to our latest research 77% of businesses are struggling to fill roles. This talent gap results in organisations coming up short, without the skills they need for today’s work environment. In particular, organisations can do more to invest in women.
An often underutilised talent pool, women currently make up 47% of the workforce in the UK. However, it’s been well documented that over the course of the pandemic women were disproportionately impacted by the negative ramifications of the health crisis on the workforce. Almost twice as many women as men considered leaving the workforce in 2020, with mothers 1.5 times more likely to have lost or quit their job than fathers since March 2020, and 25% more women kept on furlough than men. Similarly, older workers felt the negative impacts of the health crisis, and were the largest remaining working group on furlough in the final months of the government Job Retention Scheme.
Women aged 50-64 are the fastest growing group in the labour market and the biggest untapped resource in your workplace right now. To plug some of their current talent gaps, employers should turn their attention to engaging and retaining the 4.5 million 50–64-year-old women active in the labour force. However, women in this demographic can often feel unsupported in the workplace or overlooked compared to their male counter parts, with 45% of women feeling their contributions are not fully valued in work. One of the reasons for this being reported more and more is a lack of support and understanding around menopause and the workplace, as well as a shift in the nature of professional development opportunities based solely on age.
The first step in employers improving their value proposition to 50–64-year-old women is to start taking menopause seriously. 1 in 4 women consider leaving their job due to poor support for issues connected to the menopause. For employers, this means losing the knowledge, experience and diversity of thinking these individuals bring. Furthermore, recent research has found the UK could be losing as many as 14 million workdays a year related to the menopause.
Menopause awareness and support are just a beginning. Individuals of all ages want the opportunity to learn new skills and continue to develop professionally, with data showing that developing skills and advancing careers continues to be of importance in 50–64-year-olds. As women get older they feel more able to prioritise their own career aspirations as they hit a professional peak.
Despite this, much of the training opportunities available are directed at younger employees. In a talent scarce market, upskilling your current workforce is equally as important as recruitment – employers need to explore all areas of their existing employee base which may hold untapped potential.
Across our business we celebrated October as National Menopause Awareness month, and kicked off our journey to improving our support of women whenever they experience menopause in the workplace. We’ve learnt a great deal about what we can do, we’ve listened to our colleagues and peers, and we’re also bringing managers of all genders into the mix for how best to support women at every stage of their career.
Workplaces need to undergo a cultural shift. Employers need to educate themselves about the menopause and provide better support for women in the workplace. Employers also need to invest in meaningful professional development opportunities if they want to continue to engage and retain these employees. This move will foster a more inclusive workplace and help tackle the ongoing talent shortage.
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