We’re in the thick of a SHEcession—short for she-recession. Last year, women lost more than one million more jobs than men. The pandemic has taken a greater toll on female employees than their male counterparts, and this hurts companies in all industries.

When women leave the workforce, companies miss out on a wealth of benefits. In general, women are naturally strong communicators, and they are often willing to collaborate. They also bring empathy and high emotional intelligence to their teams. A report from the Center for Creative Leadership also found that having more women on your team can make your company a better place to work.

Whether you’re looking to grow your sales team or retain your top female talent, Jill Chapman, a senior performance consultant for Insperity Recruiting Services, has some suggestions. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share her tips for reshaping your workplace and creating a better working environment for all employees.

1. Embrace flexibility. One of the biggest takeaways of remote work is that employees can be highly productive regardless of where and when they work. If you want to recruit and retain high-achieving women, you have to give them flexibility. Don’t make them adhere to a standard 8:30 to 5:30 workday with a one-hour lunch.

2. Create dialogue with your employees. Another way to prevent a SHEcession at your company is to regularly talk with your sales reps. Chapman recommends reviewing their performance goals and considering if they are realistic in light of their other obligations. Managers are more in tune with their employees’ personal lives than before the pandemic, so use this closeness to prevent sales reps from getting overwhelmed or burned out.

3. Don’t offer empty support. If your company wants to truly support working moms, do something meaningful for them. Chapman says if your company has the resources, consider offering subsidies for childcare or even providing on-site daycare services or after-school care. This will relieve huge amounts of pressure from working moms and allow them to bring their whole selves to work.

4. Focus on employees’ health and well-being. Women with kids have a lot on their plate. Juggling their professional and childcare responsibilities can create a staggering amount of stress. Bosses can help them by creating a culture that encourages open discussion. Invite your sales reps to tell you if they are struggling with something. If you can’t help them, consider implementing an employee assistance program.

5. Encourage sponsorship of women in the workplace. Women want leadership opportunities just as men do. Managers can help their female sales reps by advocating for them. Look for opportunities for them and invite them to key meetings. Chapman says it also helps to assign women employees to more high-profile projects that can stretch their skills and give them a better shot at promotions.

6. Offer contract or part-time opportunities. Sometimes, women want to explore other options outside of the traditional full-time schedule. You can still retain or tap into their talent by hiring them part-time or working with them on a contract basis. Chapman notes that this lets you hang on to valued employees while being flexible to what they need.

You can retain your best and brightest sales reps by working to curb the SHEcession now. Focus on flexibility and open communication, and always strive to offer meaningful support to your female employees. And if your sales reps decide they still want to leave, find out how you can continue to work with them in a different capacity. Now is the time to attract more women back to the workplace—and provide opportunities and flexibility that make them want to stay.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant for Insperity Recruiting Services.