Women have played an integral role in the workplace in the last 50 years. Throughout the world, women are finding fulfilling careers, and some women are even out earning their male counterparts. In Communication Challenges Women Face at Work Part 1, we presented the first 5 critical communication challenges women deal with in the workplace.
Still there are more challenges that women face in the workplace. These challenges hinder some women’s abilities to ascend in their profession. Addressing these communication challenges is the first step to overcoming them.
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]6[/dropcap]Achieving work-life balance. One of the major communication challenges many women find balancing the responsibilities of their careers and responsibilities at home increasingly difficult. Being able to fill out reports, prepare for that important meeting or trip, often clashes with the need to cook, grocery shop, attend a baseball game or come home at a reasonable hour.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]7[/dropcap]Health Concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control, another prevalent challenge that women face at work is a prevalence to work related illnesses. Women who work have a higher rate of parasitic disease, respiratory illness, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They also have a higher rate of stress and anxiety disorders because of work-life balance issue and sexual harassment concerns.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]8[/dropcap]Discrimination. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women still often earn only 80 cents to the dollar that men do, even if they perform the exact same job. Women are also more likely to be the subject of workplace sexual harassment than their male counterparts. This is often hard to prove, embarrassing, and can socially isolate the victim if the harassment is made public. This is also a leading contributor to the stress and anxiety many women feel at work.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]9[/dropcap]Leadership Challenges. Despite being a powerful presence in the workforce, only a small percentage of women hold positons of power or leadership. According to Monster.com, some of the reasons why women still hit the “glass ceiling” is because of fear that they will abandon their careers to have children or to focus on family affairs. However there is some debate that the glass ceiling is also the product of female fears related to being in positions of power.[/note]
Women have become a powerful group in the modern workforce. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 67.5 million women working outside of the home throughout the world as of 2013. Yet there are still many communication challenges that women face within the professional world.
Kathy Caprino of Forbes finds that there are 9 common communication challenges that women face.
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]1[/dropcap]Don’t take it personal. Some women place too much emotional stock into workplace dynamics and interactions. Avoid taking most occurrences within the office as personal. Instead filter them through a more objective, analytical lens. This will empower you by giving perspective and helping you attain strategic advantages.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]2[/dropcap]Taking credit. In most professions, workers move up based on performance. In many cases, women are reluctant to stand up and take credit for what they’ve done. Learn to speak powerfully and comfortably about what you have achieved. If “we” didn’t actually do the work, don’t be afraid to say “I” did.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]3[/dropcap]Getting what you deserve. One of the most prevalent communication challenges for women is fighting for what you’ve earned. Studies show that men negotiate more for what they think they deserve (benefits, positions, salary). In today’s economy, doing the same work and making less pay is a self-inflicted wound. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for what you know you are worth. If the company really values your contribution, they will be willing to play ball too.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]4[/dropcap]Challenging Power. Many women have been raised to believe it is rude or “unladylike” to challenge authority, even when it is obviously destructive. This can be one of the most harmful communication challenges women face, as it can enable harassment or inappropriate behavior and attitudes in the workplace if not addressed. However, it will be difficult for women to advance to higher levels without questioning the ideas, policies, or goals of those in higher positions.[/note]
[note note_color=”#efefef”][dropcap]5[/dropcap]Creating a powerful and confident persona. Even if women don’t feel powerful and confident, it’s important to project these traits. This communication challenge is tricky because women can run the risk of seeming overbearing, even if they only match the same level of power and confidence as their male counterpoints. Still research shows that people who exhibit these traits are more likely to be promoted, attain raises, and be put in positions of leadership.[/note]
Worker empowerment can be achieved through creating a boundary-less work environment. This environment traverses old mechanisms of hierarchy and policy to stimulate creative thinking, collaboration, and the implementation of diverse business strategies and ideas. There are a few considerations to address before a boundary-less environment is established.
What (worker empowerment) Employee Benefits are Right for Us?
There are multiple benefits of no boundaries. Employers must consider which benefits make the most sense for them now and which ones they want to pursue in the future. Do they want to achieve employee autonomy? Improved collaboration, or workplace flexibility? Addressing the current areas of concern and opportunities within the company, will give leaders a good idea of which benefits to target first.
Do We Need to Update Our Technology?
Companies must review their existing technological capabilities and decide if they are equipped to encourage worker empowerment through a boundary-less environment. This will involve a few processes:
Determine the tools needed to improve collaboration.
Allow workers to bring their own devices to work that will foster communication, collaboration, and creativity.
Tap the technological know-how of non-IT personnel.
Shop around for various technologies that enable management of remote teams.
Align Empowerment with Company Strategy
Pick worker empowerment initiatives that fall in line with company strategy. For example, if a goal for your company is to create more brick and mortar stores, then pursuing a work from home empowerment initiative will not help to achieve this goal.
Leadership Buy In
Company leaders and managers must buy into worker empowerment initiatives and pursue strategies to make them happen. This can occur if: leadership buy in is communicated and demonstrated, if leaders visibly support and encourage boundary-less behaviors, and if leaders listen to and incorporate feedback.
Once these issues are addressed, companies will be ready to empower workers and empower their business.
In today’s knowledge economy, businesses that invest in worker empowerment initiatives, are developing self-sufficient and creative work cultures. By empowering workers with new policies and tools, organizations can tap into the full potential of all their employees. As markets become more complex, and physical offices convert into virtual offices, workers are the modern company’s greatest asset.
Worker empowerment along with a boundary-less workplace, are strategies that will strengthen the infrastructure of a business.
What is a Boundary-less Workplace?
A boundary-less workplace can be created by the dissolving of physical and social boundaries within the workplace. Boundaries created by technology, policy, culture, and hierarchy can be traversed by the following:
Worker Empowerment via Technology. Mobile, social, and other technologies enable faster communication and collaboration amongst employees. SMAC stack also gives workers the ability to choose the hardware and peripherals they want to assist them in their work.
Organizational Structure that Routes Particular Decisions to Qualified Parties. Decentralized decision making moves bosses out of their own way, by allowing employees to make specific decisions related to their area of expertise, as opposed to putting all decisions in the hands of company executives. This starts by executives and leaders encouraging workers to question, innovate, and learn.
Determine When to Use Flexible Work. Cut down on employee hours at the office. Workers should not be forced to work in the office, if it is not necessary, this will increase employee satisfaction as they have the option to work from home.
Achieving work empowerment via boundary-less environments will be accelerated if these strategies are implemented. Empowerment inspires creativity, free communication, and contributes to happiness and work place satisfaction. In The Worker Empowerment Culture Part 2, we will discuss how to prepare your boundary-less business.
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