Sumeet Doshi, Country Manager - India, Ultimate Kronos Group

As country manager – India for UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), Sumeet is responsible for the vision and execution of UKG’s long-term strategy and growth in the Indian workforce management market. Sumeet joined UKG (earlier Kronos) in 2007 as a solution consulting and business development manager — and the third employee working in India — before bringing his business development expertise to his role as the head of marketing. There, he led the India marketing organisation to build a sustainable channel and alliance network in the region. In his most recent role he headed sales for the India region.

 

The COVID-19 epidemic has had a significant impact on women all over the world, amplifying the gender gap that women confront on a daily basis, both at work and at home. Professional obligations demanded extra commitment on one hand, while personal/family commitments demanded more time and energy on the other, blurring the lines between professional spaces and personal lives.

While workers from all walks of life have been affected by the pandemic, there is no doubt that women have been most impacted. A key reason for this was the significant challenges companies faced to provide the flexibility required in remote working. This has significantly evolved over the course of the pandemic though. According to the research ‘[email protected]‘  which studied the impact of COVID-19 on the women workforce in India’s formal sector, 38.5 percent of working women polled stated they were negatively impacted by the extra responsibility of housekeeping, childcare, and eldercare, and 43.7 percent said their work-life balance had deteriorated. This consequently resulted in emotional exhaustion, complete burnout, and tiredness resulting in many quitting their jobs.

Clearly, the roles and responsibilities of women workers are far more complicated than that of the male workforce and most organizations fail to recognize that. And going forward, if we need to bring/retain women back into the workforce, this will need to be addressed in a sustainable manner. 

Gender disparities in the workplace, to no one’s surprise, had been holding women down even before the pandemic, where women have been considered stereotypically inferior to men. The pandemic has only likely widened the gender divide, negatively impacting women’s mental health, professional aspirations, and goals. Having said that, times have changed and we live in the 21st Century, and it is about time that we value our women workforce. Organizations must intensify their efforts to diversify and support their workforces if they are to reverse this alarming trend and continue to increase women’s contribution to the workforce, across all levels including mid-senior, senior and boardroom participation.

Organizations should think of implementing DEI (Diversity, equity and inclusion) in the workplace which, is crucial especially when the women workforce at all levels are still struggling with the age-old problem of gender parity. In this modern-day and age organizations also now have the option of transitioning into a more modern and equitable workplace with the help of advanced workforce technology that leverages AI, digital analytics, and other modern tools. These investments will guarantee a better ROI in terms of empowering and encouraging our women workforce to control and manage their work-life balance with flexibility. It is this fluidity that will help them create a career than hop jobs just to find what suits their commitments.

For eg. Flexible employment arrangements may help women strike a work-life balance, considering that companies need to embed a culture of diversity and inclusivity in their DNA. From hiring practices, policies to career planning and even the way they do business, gender sensitivity needs to permeate through all levels of an organization and its people. Flexible work should be implemented at the policy level and become the standard in businesses. In this ever-evolving hybrid and remote world, introducing a digital workforce management system would allow individuals to conveniently arrange their own schedules that meet both their personal and professional needs. 

There are various ways you may take to steer and create a flexible workplace. The broader the coverage of various types of workforce management strategies, the higher the degree of flexibility attained. What organizations need now is to step up their game and adopt flexible workforce scheduling tools that will not only help them to efficiently manage and fill open shifts and staffing levels, but will also boost employee engagement by giving them greater discretion over when they choose to pick up more shifts or hand up some of their own. Employees using the best mobile solutions may even pick up a shift by sending a simple text message, expediting the process by utilizing familiar communication channels. 

This can be extremely useful and productive in industries like retail, healthcare, IT, ITES where the percentage of women working is far higher. The number of women working in manufacturing is also increasing significantly and these strategies will also help manufacturers to drive better retention, engagement, and productivity. 

In this new environment, a company’s capacity to effectively integrate artificial intelligence, people analytics, and other emerging technologies to fulfill shifting employee expectations will be a critical component in deciding its success. Organizations can use predictive analytics to anticipate changes in demand. To ensure an easier shift to a flexible culture, strategic firms will need to use the technology indicated above. We don’t know what the future holds, such as when firms will be completely staffed or if remote work will become more prevalent, but we do know that having the appropriate technology in place can help you staff, schedule, and engage your top personnel rapidly.

Adopting and executing solid policies with advanced workforce management systems to support diversity and inclusion or flexible work practices will be and has been a positive turn. Companies that offer flexible work options appreciate their employees’ personal lives outside of the workplace. This inclusive approach will help in creating a healthy organizational structure. Retaining working women is no longer a choice; it is a need. It’s more important than ever that employers not only support women, but also encourage them to regularly show up, listen, and do more.

In times like these, organizations hold the power to drive the change from the stereotypical trends that have been forcing our women workforce to leave. By bringing in a more flexible and inclusive work culture – where women are more confident, appreciated, rewarded, feel supported by their bosses on work-life balance, believe their careers are developing at the rate they want, and most importantly, paid what they actually deserve – organizations can surely retain their talented women workforce. For businesses to achieve genuine growth, this inclusive ‘everyday’ culture is essential. 

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