Why this statistic is sounding alarm bells for HR leaders

Women's mobile usage is way up. What does that mean for employers?
By: | August 20, 2020 • 2 min read

Women are reporting a 70% increase in mobile-device usage compared to pre-pandemic and conducting at least half of their work on such devices, according to a new survey.

The research, conducted by the data and insights division of The Mom Project called WerkLabs, reports an even more dramatic increase among working moms, who use their mobile device for work 80% more during the pandemic (non-moms reported a 30% increase). The mobile device increase comes with added stress, as 72% of all women surveyed feel pressured to stay online and accessible throughout the day.

This type of stress could drive more women from the workplace. In an earlier Werklabs’ survey, women reported being almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to leave their employer within a year due to their work experience during the pandemic.

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Related: A ‘menu of options’ can ease the childcare burden

“The coronavirus pandemic has transformed our homes into all-encompassing abodes, and women, especially working moms, are doing whatever they can to remain productive and connected throughout the day,” says Werklabs President Pamela Cohen. “Moms can’t sit at a computer screen from 9-5 Monday through Friday as they juggle an endless list of responsibilities, ranging from virtual schooling to childcare, and this data reveals how many are getting their work done by any means necessary.”

Although the pandemic has hurt many in society, working parents have been some of the hardest hit. According to media reports, more than 50% of working parents are without childcare, and one in five said either they or their partner are considering leaving the workforce to care for their children. Cohen cites a LinkedIn poll that highlights those concerns, with 64% of respondents saying they have considered leaving the workforce voluntarily due to the increasing strain from COVID-19.

Amy DeVylder Levanat, senior director of human capital and benefits at Willis Towers Watson, says her organization’s surveys conducted earlier in the pandemic showed that to contend with these challenges, the vast majority of employers either offered or considered offering flexible hours to address childcare or eldercare responsibilities.

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Additionally, about half of the companies continued to pay employees who could not work from home and whose child’s school or childcare was shut down, she said. Many more employers have trained or are considering training managers to promote flexibility to meet employees’ needs and challenges related to COVID-19 restrictions, such as managing children at home.

Related: The childcare crisis is here. What are you doing about it?

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Despite these efforts to support working parents, many employees are finding the responsibilities to be unsustainable at best, DeVylder Levanat says. She suggests that, as parents strive to keep pace with the constant challenges and changes at work and at home, employers should offer family-friendly programs, practices and policies to support workers’ multiple roles of employee, parent, teacher and childcare provider.

“Just as importantly, working parents need a sense of support from leaders, managers and teams across the organization in the form of flexibility, agility, compassion and resilience,” DeVylder Levanat says. 

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.