Building benefits packages for retaining women in the workplace

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Apr 6, 2024
To retain talented women in the workplace, businesses must focus on building comprehensive benefits packages tailored to their unique needs. In this article we'll explore how to build a benefits package to retain women in the workplace.
Three women standing side by side in business attire of pastel purple, vibrant pink, and bright orange, facing away from the camera.

To retain talented women in the workplace, businesses must focus on building comprehensive benefits packages tailored to their unique needs. This includes offering flexible work options, supporting family responsibilities with childcare and maternity leave, providing comprehensive healthcare, ensuring financial wellness and retirement planning, and fostering career growth opportunities.

Companies like Vodafone, Microsoft, and Patagonia have successfully implemented such strategies, resulting in a more inclusive and supportive work environment for women. By addressing the challenges women face, such as the gender pay gap, work-life balance, and access to healthcare, businesses can create a more equitable workplace and secure the loyalty and talent of their female employees.

Landscape of Women in the Workplace

Three professional women in an office setting, with the central figure standing out in focus.

Here’s what’s going on in the work world for women:

  • On average, women make about $0.82 for every dollar a man makes for doing the same job. Fixing this pay gap shows a company cares about being fair.
  • A lot of places don’t give enough time off for new moms. Having at least 12 weeks of maternity leave helps women stay in their jobs after having a baby.
  • Finding and paying for childcare for babies is really hard, costing about $179 per week. Helping pay for this can make a big difference for moms.

To attract and keep women, businesses need to seriously think about what women need and offer benefits that help with those things.

The Problem: Gender Inequalities Facing Women in the Workplace

Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap means women often earn less than men for the same job. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Worldwide, women make about 77 cents for every dollar men make for the same work. This gap is even bigger for women of color.
  • Not having equal pay means countries lose a lot of money. If we fixed this, the world could be $12 trillion richer by 2025.
  • In the U.S., women earn 82 cents for every man’s dollar. Black women earn 63 cents, and Latina women get 55 cents.

This pay gap hurts women’s money over their lifetime, making it harder for them to save for when they retire and to move up in their careers. Paying everyone fairly shows a company values everyone equally.

Work-Life Balance Challenges

A woman multitasking, exercising with a dumbbell in one hand and holding a telephone in the other, dressed in fitness attire and a business blazer.

Women often do more at home, like taking care of kids or older family members, which makes juggling work tough:

  • Women spend about 4.5 hours a day on unpaid care, while men spend about 1.7 hours.
  • In the U.S., moms do 40% more childcare than dads. Some women have to go back to work just 2 weeks after having a baby because they don’t get enough time off.
  • Only 17% of places worldwide give paid time off for family reasons.

Giving enough paid leave and options to work flexibly helps women stay in their jobs after big life changes.

Financial Wellness

Women face unique money challenges, which affects their earnings and savings for retirement:

  • Women have 32% less wealth than men globally. In the U.S., there’s a 30% gap in retirement savings between men and women.
  • Women often have to take breaks from work to care for others, which means they earn less over their lifetime. They also live longer, needing more money for retirement.
  • Issues like discrimination, unequal pay, and not enough benefits make these problems worse. For instance, 20% of U.S. women don’t have paid sick days.

Fair pay, enough leave, and retirement benefits are crucial for women to do well at work.

Health Disparities

Women have a higher risk for some health issues, which can be overlooked because of cost, time, or stigma:

  • 1 in 3 women worldwide say they’ve skipped medical care because it’s too expensive or they’re too busy.
  • Women are more likely to have chronic conditions like arthritis, migraines, depression, and anxiety. These can affect how well they do their jobs.
  • Depression is a big health problem for women globally. But only 25% of companies offer mental health help.

Offering good health benefits, screenings, and programs for wellness helps women stay healthy and do better at work.

While we’ve made some strides toward making things equal for women at work, there’s still a long way to go. Companies that understand and address these issues can help women succeed, leading to better results for everyone.

What Women in the Workplace Really Want

A group of women engaged in a lively discussion around a table in a modern meeting space.

Women make up about half of all workers around the world, but they often face special challenges at work. Companies can keep more women on their team by offering benefits that really help them.

Flexible Work Options
  • 85% of women say being able to choose when and where they work makes it easier to handle work and life stuff.
  • Working from home is one of the top 3 benefits for women.
  • Part-time jobs let women find a good mix of work and family time.

Giving women flexible work options means they can do well at work and also take care of things at home.

Family Support
  • 80% of women think paid time off for family is super important, but only 54% can actually get it.
  • Childcare for babies costs a lot, more than $300 a week. Help with these costs makes it easier for moms to keep working.
  • Help with family planning, like freezing eggs or IVF, is something women really look for.

Helping working moms with time off and childcare means they can keep growing their careers.

Health and Wellness
  • 1 in 5 women say mental health help is one of the top benefits they need, more so than men.
  • Being able to get care for things like birth control, STD tests, and pregnancy is really important for over 75% of women.
  • Programs that focus on eating right, staying fit, managing stress, and getting check-ups help women take charge of their health.

Good health benefits that meet women’s specific needs are key for them to feel good and do their best work.

Growth Opportunities
  • Being able to move up at work is really important for how happy and committed women feel about their jobs.
  • Programs that help women learn and lead are crucial for their professional growth.
  • Training in tech, communication, and management prepares women for bigger roles.

Focusing on helping women get ahead gives them the tools they need for long-term success.

Companies that focus on what women want—like flexible work, support for families, health care, and chances to grow—are better at keeping talented women on their team.

Solution: Building a Comprehensive Benefits Package

Close-up of an employee benefits package form with a paper clip.

Companies can keep more women working for them by creating really good benefits packages that think about what women need. Here are the main areas to focus on:

Remote and Flexible Work Options
  • Letting people work from home or the office on a schedule they choose helps women manage both work and family life. Vodafone found that 85% of women are more likely to stay at a job if they can work where they want.
  • Working four days a week instead of five can give everyone an extra day to handle personal stuff.
  • Offering part-time jobs or flexible hours lets women balance their careers with taking care of their families.
Childcare and Family Support
  • Giving more than the usual 6-8 weeks of maternity leave, like 12 weeks, helps moms bond with their babies without worrying about work.
  • Having daycare at the workplace or helping pay for childcare can really help moms. Microsoft even gives up to $5,000 back for these costs.
  • Offering help with surrogacy and fertility treatments supports women who are trying to start or grow their families in their own way.
Comprehensive Healthcare
  • Good health insurance that covers what women need, including help with mental health and learning about health issues, is really important.
  • Benefits should also cover things like birth control, tests for STDs, vitamins for pregnant women, help for those in abusive situations, and care after having a baby.
  • Programs that help women eat healthy, manage stress, and stay active can make a big difference in how well they feel and work.
Financial Wellness and Retirement Planning

Jar of coins labeled "Retirement" with a blurred cityscape in the background.

  • Matching more than the usual amount in a 401(k) retirement plan helps women save more money over time.
  • Helping pay off student loans can also ease the financial strain, especially since women often earn less than men.
  • Making sure women get paid the same as men for the same job is crucial for fair pay over their careers.
Career Growth and Leadership Initiatives
  • Having mentorship programs, networking events, and conferences can help women learn new skills and see opportunities to move up.
  • Making sure there are women candidates for management jobs and speaking opportunities opens doors.
  • Supporting groups like the Women’s Strategy Committee at MoFo creates a place where women can talk about work issues and feel included.

By really thinking about what women need and offering benefits and programs that help, companies can be better places for women to work.

Case Studies

Some companies are really good at keeping women happy and working for them by offering great benefits. Let’s look at a few examples.

Company 1: Vodafone

Vodafone learned that 85% of women like having the choice to work when and where they want. So, they started:

  • Letting people choose their work hours and place
  • Giving new moms 16 weeks off with pay all over the world
  • Allowing new moms to work a few days during their leave to help them get back into work easier
  • Helping with childcare costs: up to $2,600 a year

After doing this, more women became managers, going from 23% to 29%.

Company 2: Microsoft

Microsoft really wants to help parents through things like:

  • 12 weeks off for all new parents
  • Money to help with childcare: up to $5,000 a year
  • Money back for surrogacy and adoption: up to $10,000
  • Daycare right at work: saves time and teaches kids early

With these great benefits for families, more women now work in tech jobs at Microsoft, growing from 17% in 2016 to almost 30% today.

“We try our best to support working parents.”
– Nina McQueen, Microsoft Benefits Director

Implementing a Benefits Package

Three women in a meeting, with one gesturing as if explaining something, and another taking notes.

Companies can keep more women working for them by checking what benefits they already offer, asking women what they need, and carefully making changes.

Assessing Current Benefits
  • Look over the benefits you have now and find where you might be missing things that help women, like time off, being able to work flexible hours, healthcare, help with childcare, and chances to move up in their careers.
  • Compare your benefits to what other companies offer. See if you’re missing anything important.
  • Use information from employee leaving reasons and data on who’s staying and who’s going to find out what women need that they’re not getting.
  • Figure out how much it might cost to make your benefits better and how that could save money in the long run by not having to hire and train new people as often.
Employer Surveys and Focus Groups
  • Ask women at your company what they need in terms of flexible work, time off, learning opportunities, and so on.
  • Have group talks and private chats where women can share what would help them stay and succeed at the company.
  • Talk to women in leadership to get their take on what benefits would make the company a better place for women to work.
  • Make sure everyone’s answers are private and share what you learn with everyone to build trust.
Rolling Out Changes
  • Teach managers about the new benefits first so they can help spread the word.
  • Have the big bosses talk about the new benefits in meetings with everyone. Make it exciting.
  • After you’ve told everyone about the changes, make sure to give out guides, update the employee book, and explain how to sign up for new benefits.
  • Check in with women at the company after 6 to 12 months to see how things are going. Ask if there’s anything else they need and make changes if you need to.

Making your workplace better for women might take some effort, but it’s worth it because it helps keep great employees and makes the company do better overall.

Conclusion

Three individuals in brightly colored suits, cropped at the waist, showcasing fashion diversity in professional attire.

It’s really important for companies to make special benefits packages for women who work for them. This helps keep really good women workers from leaving. Women have some tough challenges at work, like not getting paid as much as men and finding it hard to balance work and family life. If companies don’t fix these issues, they’ll keep losing their talented women employees.

The key is to really understand what women workers want and to put together benefits packages that meet those needs. Important things to include are flexible work options, help with childcare, health services just for women, help with money planning, and ways to move up in their careers. Companies like Vodafone, Microsoft, and Patagonia show how doing this can make a big difference.

In the end, making a workplace where women can do well in their jobs and in their personal lives leads to keeping employees longer, more new ideas, a stronger competitive edge, and the chance to grow strong women leaders. It’s not just good for women employees, but for the whole company.

Parting Thoughts

To make a benefits program that really works for women, start by checking what you already offer, ask employees what they need, and make thoughtful changes. Keep checking and updating the benefits to meet changing needs. It takes work, but the benefits for equality and the success of the company are huge.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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