Traditionally the role of caregiver has fallen to women and although more men are taking on the role, statistics show that it is still being performed primarily by women. As the population grow older, there are more people requiring aged care. The result of this is that many women leave the traditional workforce, because they have less time to devote to a full time role while they are taking up the care-giving role and this is especially true in the United States, where more women will step back from an organization in order to provide care to older family members.
According to 2014 research from the Department of Labor,
“If the U.S. had the same rate [of female labor force participation] Canada or Germany, there would be around 5.5 million more women age 25-54 in the labor force in the U.S.”
One way that companies can assist women and men who have been partially or fully on leave is to embrace contingent work as a means to retain workers. It can also support the worker who is returning to work, to upskill or retrain.
As mentioned in a recent Forbes article, here are several suggestions for how companies can cater to contingent workers in order to attract top talent:
- Offer contingent workers the same opportunities to build careers for themselves, even though it may not be possible to do so in their own organization. For example, offer them opportunities to build up additional skills that can help the contingent worker start at a higher level in their next assignment.
- Offer opportunities for learning and skill-building with formal programs. Upskilling is one of the top reasons I’ve seen contingent employees accept assignments.
- Recognize contingent workers and show appreciation when they have gone above and beyond in their work.
- Offer flexible hours, which allows individuals who are caregivers the ability to fulfill their care-giving duties while also fulfilling their job assignments and maintaining careers.
As automation and the future of work collide with the need for increased care-giving to elders and spouses, contingent work could help the American workforce to retain 5.5 million women
Smart companies can accommodate the social requirements for women (and men) stepping back from full time roles or having extended periods of leave to care for their elderly family. By making allowances and creating alternative working arrangements, these companies can adopt a more flexible work model and continue to retain their top talent.