Going Beyond the Numbers to Retain Your Female Talent

If you have strong female talent within your organization, what do you do when you become fearful you may lose them, either to another more appealing employer, or to outside demands which we’re increasingly seeing women leave the workplace for?

Often employers have a misconception that the way to keep their female talent is to help them build their “confidence.”

How to retain your female talent

How to retain your female talent

This almost always misses the mark. There are few indicators showing women don’t feel as confident as their male counterparts in the workplace – rather, their focus is very much on concepts surrounding the workplace environment and culture.

While every woman is unique, as is every organization, these are 5 general tips employers can put in place in their own organization to help retain their talented female employees, and help them thrive and grow in their careers:

  • Facilitate network-building. Networking within an organization plays an important role in how many employees are able to work their way up the career ladder, but women often feel as if they’re left out of these opportunities, and they frequently liken it to the “good ole’ boys club.” It’s important that women are included in networking opportunities, and given the chance to build the relationships that can then help them work through the ranks of their organization.
  • Work to understand why you’re losing your female talent. This is something that can be done through the gathering and tracking of a variety of retention metrics, and you can particularly focus on the exit interview. You may really have no idea why women are leaving your organization – you may be focusing on salary-related issues, whereas your female employees may be leaving because they feel there’s a lack of respect coming from company leaders, or it may simply be their personal demands are too challenging. Whatever the primary reasons are, it’s important to work to understand these issues so you can more effectively address them.
  • Managers need to be trained on how to retain top talent, including female employees, and there should be a system of accountability in place that holds these managers to standards. As we often discuss, the majority of employees who leave their employer do so not because of the company, but because of their manager. Managers are the key liaison between a company’s top talent and retention, and they should be treated as such. When there’s a high turnover rate in a company, this needs to factor into the manager’s overall assessment of performance.
  • Some companies that are forward-thinking with promoting women within their organization are looking at a concept of sponsorship. Sponsorship means employers and co-workers are providing a sense of advocacy for talented females in an organization, even if they’re not present. That means if you’re a manager and you’re in a meeting with company leaders, it’s up to you to speak up and let them know about the achievements or abilities of talented females. Sponsorship can really put those most talented female employees front and center, which can help them when it comes to earning promotions and leadership positions.
  • Yes, many women report wanting more flexible scheduling, but there’s something that employers can do to retain their talented female employees that goes beyond simply offering opportunities for a flexible work environment – flexible benefits packages. Working from home may be appealing, but many women also want their employers to consider other options such as resources for child and elder care, on-site daycare facilities and healthcare-related benefits that can speak to their unique needs and concerns.

Now is the time, as women are leaving the workforce or expressing dissatisfaction, that employers see female talent as not just an asset to their company, but a necessity.

If you’re interested in retaining female talent through a sponsorship program, read our blog on the topic, which lays out tips for developing successful sponsor relationships.

October 8, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015   female workers, gender gap, talent, women in the workplace   

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