Author Archive for Chris Cook

Increase Your Gratitude for Better Health

I’m teaching Working with Emotional Intelligence again at Southern Oregon University. This term, it’s for the Innovation and Leadership Program, a degree completion program for adults who previously started but did not finish their bachelor’s degree.

Recently, we talked about positive psychology and the role gratitude plays in our emotional and physical health. Research by Robert Emmons reveals that expressing gratitude improves physical, mental and social well-being.

Physical Benefits

  • stronger immune systems
  • less bothered by aches and pains
  • lower blood pressure
  • exercise more and take better care of their health
  • sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Mental Benefits

  • higher levels of positive emotions
  • more alert, alive and awake
  • greater joy and pleasure
  • more optimism and happiness

Social Benefits

  • more helpful, generous and compassionate
  • more forgiving
  • more outgoing
  • feel less lonely and isolated

Around Thanksgiving, I always begin to think more about what I am grateful for. I know that sometimes I forget to be grateful when I’m rushing through busy, jam-packed days and nights.

How do we get in touch with gratitude when it seems like there is so much negativity in the world?

We can start with these questions:

  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What good did I do today?
  • How was I helpful today?
  • What went well today?

Asking yourself these questions makes you remember the good. And while at first it may take some thought to come up with the answers, it becomes easier with practice. Because you are focusing on the good, you’ll develop new neural pathways and start noticing the good as it’s happening.

Here’s a little exercise you can incorporate into your life to help you notice the good more readily and increase your feelings of happiness and gratitude. It’s called “What Went Well.” There are many variations, but I especially like Marty Seligman’s version (he’s the founding father of positive psychology). He suggests that at the end of each day you take a few minutes to write down three things that went well. These don’t need to be earth-shattering in importance (e.g., “The hiking boots I ordered online fit perfectly”), or they can be super-important (“My daughter just gave birth to a healthy baby boy.”)

It may seem awkward at first to write about positive events in your life, but stick with it. It will get easier. You’ll begin noticing the positive events as they are happening and have the opportunity to relish them. With daily practice, six months from now, you will be happier, more grateful and maybe even addicted to this exercise!

Are you already doing a variation on “What Went Well?” Please tell us about it in a comment below.

When Disaster Strikes

Look around you. What do you see? Hurricanes, fires, mass shootings, political shenanigans, incivility, disrespect, abuse and fear? The list goes on.

What are you doing about it? There’s so much … where can you start? Some of us are volunteering to help disaster victims. Others are supporting relief efforts financially. Many have posted #metoo on their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

This is a time in which a good dollop of resilience can make a difference in how you are dealing with the melee. A time when grit is good. When optimism can help both you and those around you.

To inspire my own optimism, I pulled out a blog post from last August in which I quoted Christian D. Larson’s “Creed for Optimists,” written in 1912.

Here it is again.

Promise yourself to:

  1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  2. Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  3. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them.
  4. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best.
  5. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  6. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  7. Give everyone a smile.
  8. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
  9. Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  10. Think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world—not in loud words—but in great deeds.
  11. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

While this may seem frivolous in light of all that is happening, what would be possible if you were to incorporate just one or two of these points into your daily life? Would positivity spread? I’m not suggesting you give up on any other efforts to help with the negatives—just try adding one or two of these positives.

I’ll do the same.

Develop Intelligent Teams for Optimal Performance in an Ever-Changing Landscape

An intelligent team—sounds good, huh? But what is it and how do you get it? These are the questions I am preparing to answer on Wednesday when I lead a workshop at Southern Oregon University for members of a high-tech company, timber products company and municipality. And while these seem like disparate organizations, the concepts and steps needed to create intelligent teams are the same for all.

Let’s start with a description. Anchored in constructive collaboration, intelligent teams optimize functioning for enhanced performance, greater productivity and intense creativity. They are critical to successfully navigate the changes we face daily in today’s organizations.

An intelligent team is deeply fluent in the competencies from emotional and social intelligence—the ability to interpret and manage your own emotions to the benefit of the situation and to read and respond with empathy to the feelings of others. Add to this an understanding of social situations and a big-picture perspective. In other words, it’s moving from a frame of “I” to “you” and then “we.”

An intelligent team takes this a step further and employs Relationship Systems Intelligence—the capacity to move beyond personal concerns to a powerful, generative group identity with resilience and resources to address challenges as our world transforms. Sound amazing? Well, it is!

My knowledge of this topic comes directly from hands-on training I received over the last four years at CRR Global’s Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching workshops and from reading CRR founder Marita Fridjhon’s 2016 book, Creating Intelligent Teams. Marita coauthored the book with Anne Rød. My thanks to Marita for permission to quote/paraphrase liberally.

In this blog, I will share the five principles of Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) and give you a few things to consider while contemplating your organization’s intelligence. Future blog posts will delve deeper into this subject, so stay tuned!

Five Principles of Intelligent Teams

  1. Each relationship system (team) has its own unique entity.
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System.
  3. The team has the answers.
  4. Roles belong to the team, not the individuals.
  5. Change is constant.

What Does This Mean?

  1. Each relationship system has its own unique entity. Any time there are two or more people, they create a “system” or “team entity.” This thing is bigger than the sum of its parts. Intelligent teams are aware of the system and together act as a system—as a “we” vs. a “you” or “me.”
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System. (Everyone is right—partially!) A strong system is one where all members’ voices are heard, which only happens with trust and willingness to share without repercussions. Together, they can add enough information to the system to create an intelligent entity.
  3. The team has the answers. This is one of my favorites! We hold true that relationship systems are naturally intelligent, generative and creative. Kind of like the old 1+1=3 equation and underscored by mutual accountability and responsibility to speak up. Disagreement is good—it’s simply what can happen as more information (voices) is added to the system as it works toward intelligent outcomes.
  4. Roles belong to the team. Relationship systems rely on roles for their organization and execution of functions. For example, there are functional roles (boss, customer service, IT) and emotional roles (peacekeeper, visionary, truth-teller). These roles belong to the system, not the individuals who inhabit the system. If a person leaves the system, the system regenerates and fills the roles as necessary.
  5. Change is constant. Relationship systems are in a constant state of emergence, always in the process of expressing their potential. By noticing signals, team members can explore hidden opportunities and help the entity remain open to new ideas and inspirations that would not be accessible to an individual.

In my next post, I’ll explore the key competencies of an intelligent team along with pointers on how to develop those key competencies. In the meantime, take a look at your own team/organization and get a sense as to where you are now.

Here are a few things to consider (straight from the book):

  1. How would you describe the leadership in your team and organization?
  2. Who are your colleagues? How many are Millennials? Other? How are you bridging the generation gap and working together optimally?
GENERATIONS KEY
  • Gen Z, iGen or Centennials: Born 1996 and later. (<21)
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995. (22–40)
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976. (41–52)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964. (53–71)
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before. (>72)
  1. How well do you know your colleagues’ background, talents, special skills? How often do you use their specialized knowledge?
  2. How often and in what situations do you and your colleagues work as a team system rather than independent individuals?
  3. How high do you think the level of RSI in your team is?

Questions?

Please call or email me. Let’s see what’s possible in developing the intelligence of your team.

Critical Factors for Keeping Top Talent

Pssst … it’s all about happiness!

Last week, I got to present “Critical Factors for Keeping Top Talent” at a SOREDI event. It was fun to share one of my favorite topics—the importance of happiness at work. With Oregon’s unemployment rate at 3.8% and the country’s at 4.3%, SOREDI was smart to focus on such a relevant topic!

The 2017 PwC CEO Survey found the top three CEO challenges in the United States are talent, technology and innovation. About talent, the report states, “Talent will help an organization distinguish itself from the competition. Organizations need people who can surmount big challenges and tackle complex issues. CEOs are looking for employees who are agile, curious, and can collaborate with others to achieve the greatest results. These skill sets are among the hardest to recruit.”

I believe in two simple truths:

  1. Your people are the #1 resource that will determine your success.
  2. Happy people perform better.

There are many factors that influence success, but it’s your people who give you an absolute advantage.

Happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy.Shawn Achor

Happiness is a worthwhile investment. Decades of compelling evidence shows that improving happiness in the workplace delivers significant increases in profit, productivity and innovation—not to mention substantial cost savings. Happier workers are healthier and more effective team members, and they provide superior customer service. Happier businesses attract top talent and are more likely to retain their best workers.

Why worry about happiness at work? You can count on:
  • 30% Higher productivity1
  • 54% Better staff retention2
  • 3x Higher creativity3

Social economist and researcher (and all-around good guy) Nic Marks uses a dynamic model to explain which factors create a happy workplace. The model takes into account people’s “experience of work” (how they feel), which is influenced by how they are “functioning at work” (what they do). This depends on the “organizational system” (where they work) and their “personal resources” (who they are). Using an assessment developed by Nic and his company Happiness Works, you can generate your own dynamic model for your workplace.

Dynamic Model

This dynamic model is from a Portland tech company Capiche worked with. Notice the colors ranging from orange to dark green. Like a stoplight, red to orange is a non-starter, and green is a go.

Measured within each of the four components of the dynamic model are:

  • Experience of work: Positive and negative feelings, engaging work, worthwhile work
  • Functioning at work: Self-expression, sense of control, sense of progress, work relationships
  • Organizational system: Job design, management system, work environment, social value
  • Personal resources: Vitality, happiness, confidence, work-life integration

People’s happiness at work is not fixed or static; instead, it is fluid and moving, interconnected and dynamic. I like the illustration of shared responsibility between the employee and employer.

People’s happiness at work is not fixed or static; instead, it is fluid and moving. Click To Tweet

Finders, Keepers?

The factors you need to keep top talent directly correlate with the factors needed to recruit talent.

Happiness at work isn’t something that’s reserved for companies like Zappos and Google. There are plenty of smaller or lesser-known companies like these Southern Oregon ones that have it right: Coding Zeal, Darex, Bio Skin, and Dutch Bros.

If you are ready to step up to happiness, give me a holler via email or phone at 541.601.0114. Let’s see where you are now and make plans to increase your organization’s happiness—and recruitment, retention, innovation, customer service and profits!


References

  1. “Insight to impact leadership that gets results.” Hay Group.
  2. “Engaging hearts and minds: preparing for a changing world.” Hay Group.
  3. “Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving.” Isen, A.M., Daubman, K.A., and Nowicki, G.P. (1987). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(6), 1122.

Identify Your Distinctive Strengths for Increased Business and Personal Success

What sets you apart? What is the cream that floats to the top? The icing on the cake? If someone were to ask what your top three strengths are, what would you say?

Whether you are promoting yourself or your business, you’ll excel when you know and understand your strengths—so you can put them front and center.

If you are looking for a job or promotion, you need to know your strengths. If you can’t articulate them, you can’t expect your boss or potential employer to, either.

If you are looking to grow your business, increase your client base or expand your market share, you need to know your business’ strengths. If you’re not sure of them yourself, how can you expect your clients to understand them?

Here’s a four-step process to identifying what sets you and your business apart:

  1. List your strengths. Include skills and knowledge you’ve acquired through experience and education as well as softer intrinsic strengths such as insightfulness, empathy or stellar customer service.
  2. Ask for input. Ask colleagues or clients for honest feedback.
  3. Revisit past feedback. Reread old performance reviews and think back on coaching from previous bosses (businesses can check out YELP or TripAdvisor reviews).
  4. Modify your list. Adjust your original list to reflect what you’ve learned. Make sure the strengths are specific so they are credible and useful.

Now what? Use these distinctive strengths to build your brand—either personal or business. It all follows the same formula in the end: identify and promote your strengths to the people you want to influence. BAM. Done!

A great resource for identifying personal strengths is Strengthsfinder by Gallup. I use this regularly for my coaching clients with great success. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Tell Me a Story

We grew up on stories. We fell asleep to bedtime stories. We learned to read by deciphering stories (See Dick. See Dick run. Look, Jane. Look, look. See Dick.) Stories are what make us human. It’s how we make sense of the world, going back to Roman and Greek mythology and earlier.

To make your product or service stand out from the rest, create and tell a story. Find a way to connect with your audience. Stories connect people. They elicit emotions, and positive emotions drive sales.

Research shows there are seven distinct types of stories.

  1. Overcoming the Monster.
  2. Rebirth.
  3. Quest.
  4. Journey and Return.
  5. Rags to Riches.
  6. Tragedy.
  7. Comedy.

Which of these types of stories would be best suited to portraying your brand?

Looking at some popular brands today, two “Journey and Return” stories come to mind—TOMS and Warby Parker. According to the TOMS website, Founder Blake Mycoskie “witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes” while traveling in Argentina in 2006. “Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need.” Since then, more than 60 million children in 70 countries have gotten new shoes thanks to TOMS. In addition, TOMS has helped restore sight to more than 400,000 people in need. In 13 countries, TOMS provides prescription glasses, medical treatment or sight-saving surgery with each purchase of TOMS brand eyewear. The company has also taken on the causes of clean, sustainable drinking water and safer births.

Warby Parker’s story is told on its website. Also an eyewear retailer, Warby Parker was started out of a rebellious desire to upend the norm of expensive eyewear after one of its founders lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and couldn’t afford to replace them. Similar to TOMS, Warby Parker partners with nonprofits such as VisionSpring to distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair sold.

When I googled “top brands 2017,” a few stood out because of their stories.

Ferrari wanted me to Shift to the 12th Dimension in a two-minute video that evoked a “quest” for the speed-driven experience only a Ferrari can produce.

Nike wanted me to “Just do it”—yeah, I can “overcome the monster” of inactivity by wearing their athletic gear.

Also setting me up to “overcome the monster” was Lego. This 85-year-old brand tempted me with superheros like Spiderman and knights saving the kingdom.

Capiche’s brand is one of “rebirth,” or metamorphosis. After 25 years as a professional marketer, I found a way to combine my new coaching credentials with my love for marketing. What came about was a combination of workplace culture and branding—more specifically, helping organizations uncover and then live their brand.

What’s your unique brand story? How are you living it? Let’s talk.

Facebook Memories: What I Was Excited About 6 Years Ago

If you’re a Facebook user, don’t you love the “You have memories with xyz to look back on today” feature? Revisiting earlier Facebook posts can be fun—and remind you of what mattered to you at different times in your life.

It made me happy when a memory popped up about a letter to the editor I wrote that was published in the Mail Tribune on April 25, 2011. Just Tuesday night, I was sharing the concept of positive psychology and its benefits with my current cohort of Southern Oregon University business students in my Working with Emotional Intelligence class. And my respect for positive psychology has only grown over the last six years.

Here’s my original letter:

I was pleased to see an article on England’s new Action for Happiness Movement, whose mission is to encourage people to increase the happiness of others.

Happiness has become a very meaningful concept. People are focusing on more than just smiles and friendliness. Happiness has, quite rightfully, become about making the most of the good times, and about dealing with the bad times. It has come to include resilience and a positive outlook during adversity, both of which are significant parts of happiness.

Positive psychology has boosted the case for happiness. Many of the ideas are not new, but the fact that there is now a scientific basis for happiness gives them new life. Research over the past quarter-century has shown that happiness has a wide range of benefits for individuals, teams, organizations and communities. What’s more, research has found that it is possible to build happiness—it is not a matter of luck.

Action for Happiness’ launch event received a great turnout, international media coverage and a strong social-media reaction. More importantly, the launch event brought together a very diverse group of people, all of whom brought their unique ideas and approaches to happiness.

The Dalai Lama has been Patron Saint to Action for Happiness since its beginning. According to the website, “Our members take action to increase wellbeing in their homes, workplaces, schools and local communities. Our vision is a happier world, with fewer people suffering with mental health problems and more people feeling good, functioning well and helping others.”

Bravo! Please join me in exploring further the ways you can increase your happiness and that of others (I’ve just assigned my business students to do the same)! Here’s a good place to start.

This blog craves comments. Please share what’s working for you!

Dangerous Diction: 6 Types of Words That Sap Your Power—and How to Take It Back

Whether or not you realize it, you convey hidden messages about yourself through your diction.

Your word choices reveal your level of confidence in yourself and your statements—and subsequently influence how others perceive and treat you.

Words to Power

A recent Forbes article by Avery Blank outlines six types of words that undermine your power when you use them:

  1. Fluff. If you want people to question your intelligence and authority, talk like a Valley girl. Otherwise, eschew like, whatever, so on, kind of, sort of, um and other pause words that put the brakes on meaning.
  2. Defensive phrases. Terms like just, I think, arguably and in my opinion make your listeners question your conviction and message.
  3. Aptitude terms. When you say, “I’ll try,” you betray an insecurity that spreads to your audience. Overconfidence is equally disquieting. Telling a coworker, “Don’t worry about it” is not only dismissive but shuts down opportunities for collaboration.
  4. Condescending words. Terms such as actually, obviously and clearly suggest you think your audience is ignorant, and that’s a good way to make them tune out.
  5. Mea culpa. We’re not saying you should never apologize—accepting responsibility for the consequences of your actions is the mature response. Just don’t say “sorry” when something goes awry due to circumstances outside your control.
  6. Hyperbole. Very, absolutely, totally, tremendously, incredibly and similar emphasis words achieve the opposite of their intended effect. Your message is stronger without them.

The 6 Rungs of Speaking Power

In my Working with Emotional Intelligence class, I share a handout titled “Escaping Victim Mud—The Power of Your Words” from Falling Awake: Creating the Life of Your Dreams.

We discuss how to climb Dave Ellissix rungs of powerful speaking from least to most powerful:

  1. Obligation. If you use terms like should, must, have to and ought, you’re speaking at the bottom rung of Ellis’ ladder. This tells others you are acting not out of desire but duty.
  2. Possibility. People at this level choose words like consider, maybe, might, could and hope. The attitude is more positive, but these words tell listeners you don’t feel in control of the outcome.
  3. Preference. Bartleby fans know the power of prefer, as in, “I would prefer not to.” Moving from should to might to want shows a progression of control. Those who prefer and want are expressing their goals in a way that impacts the audience more deeply.
  4. Passion. When you speak with enthusiasm (excited, can’t wait and love), you capture listeners through your energetic expressiveness. There is a difference between gushing and acting, however, and your words will feel hollow if you don’t have the evidence to back them up.
  5. Plan. When you present a plan to achieve specific goals, you demonstrate your control over the situation and your strategy for achieving the desired results. This is when the abstract becomes concrete for your listeners.
  6. Promise. At the apex of Ellis’ ladder is promise (will, do, promise), and that’s where dream transforms into reality. At the most powerful rung, you will captivate your audience and engage them in your commitment to action.

Different situations call for different rungs in the communication ladder. Perpetually balancing on the top rung is unrealistic and even inappropriate in certain contexts.

What Are You Telling People?

As a co-active coach, I can help you assess how your language influences others’ perceptions of you and how you can achieve a more positive reception, whether speaking, leading or collaborating. Call me at 541.601.0114 or email me to start climbing the ladder toward a more powerful you.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire Women—and 5 Ways to Entice Them

When you’re sizing up a potential employer, what are some of the factors that go in your Pros column? For men and women alike, a lot of those priorities will look similar, but there are certain items women tend to value more highly than men according to Gallup’s Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived.

What Motivates Women to Work?

For 84% of the 323,500 US women Gallup surveyed, the satisfaction of earning their own money provided a compelling reason for working. Three-quarters report that they work because they enjoy the work itself, and two-thirds are drawn to the relationships formed in the workplace.

What Makes a Workplace Attractive to Women?

Our last article outlined some of the organizational shortcomings causing women to leave the workplace, but what are some of the positive characteristics that draw female employees to a company?

  1. Good Match. Two-thirds (66%) of women—11% more than men—place the greatest emphasis on whether the position matches their strengths and talents. For most women, having a job that allows them to flourish and achieve their potential is more important than a boost in pay, which only 39% ranked “very important” when evaluating a potential job.
  2. Balance. For 60% of female respondents (vs. 48% of men), the ability to balance professional and personal responsibilities is the second most-important factor in considering a new job.
  3. Dependability. For both women (52%) and men (50%), workplace stability ranks relatively high.
  4. Standing. As many as 39% of female respondents (compared with 33% of men) ranked a company’s brand, or reputation, as “very important” when weighing whether to join the organization.
  5. Purpose. Ten percent more women (32% versus 22%) consider an organization’s cause “very important.” For female millennials, however, the opportunity to do meaningful work (38%) outranks reputation (34%). Purpose-driven work holds a higher appeal for this new generation of women, who have had the greatest access to education.

What Do Women Bring to the Table?

Political correctness aside, why should a company make efforts to recruit female employees? In what ways do women have the statistical edge over men?

  1. Engagement. Female employees have higher rates of engagement than men: 35% versus 29%. That 6% differential is echoed in management roles, with 41% of female leaders being engaged versus 35% of male leaders. As we’ve repeatedly stressed in past articles (Blue Ocean Leadership: 4 Steps to Boosting Employee Engagement, Millennial Mindset: What Gen Y Wants out of Work and Life, Naughty or Nice: Which Makes for a More Effective Leader? and The Top 4 Employee Needs to Fulfill for Greater Happiness and Productivity), research shows that higher employee engagement leads to yields in productivity and profits.
  2. Stronger Teams. Female managers are not only more engaged than their male counterparts, but their team members are more engaged, too. Whether it’s due to higher emotional intelligence, better relationship-building skills, a more intuitive approach or an emphasis on cooperation over competition, female leaders garner 6% more engagement from their employees.
  3. Satisfaction. According to Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement data, more women report that their companies are meeting their needs than men do. This is surprising given the failure of many organizations to offer a flexible workplace and accommodate women’s unique needs as we’ve discussed previously. Still, in 11 out of the 12 items on the Gallup Q12 engagement survey, female employees score higher, which is in line with the findings that female employees are more engaged in general.
  4. Potential. Female leaders often hone in on the strengths of their team members and are more likely to encourage the development of their employees’ potential. They tend to play a more nurturing role, coaching rather than dictating. Women generally practice more collaborative, democratic forms of leadership, whereas traditional patriarchal models follow a more authoritarian hierarchy.
  5. Bottom Line. Gallup notes, “Gender diversity strengthens a company’s financial performance.” While it is difficult to pinpoint the precise causes, organizations with more female employees and managers tend to fare better financially—perhaps from a combination of deeper engagement, increased productivity, stronger performance and greater workplace satisfaction.

How Can You Create a More Female-Friendly Workplace?

If you’d like to reap the rewards of gender diversity at your company, call me at 541.601.0114 or email to find out how Capiche can help improve your organizational culture; articulate your branding; and boost employee engagement, productivity, performance and profit.

Why Are Women Leaving the Workforce?

What’s different about the twenty-first century American woman? Why did the United States go from having one of the highest rates of female participation in the workforce to one of the lowest in a comparative study conducted in 2015?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 60% of women 15 and older were employed in 2000. By 2015, that figure had dropped to 56.7%. While the difference seems small, it represents a trajectory toward fewer women in the workplace, and companies are losing out on the unique strengths women bring to the table.

As discussed in our last post, societal barriers no longer prevent women from pursuing careers, but that doesn’t automatically mean all of them want to. Increasingly, women are choosing a different path—particularly mothers of young children.

In its Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived report, Gallup found that more than half (54%) of working mothers expressed a preference to stay at home, while a mere 40% indicated a desire to work outside home.

Women feel the pull of family more strongly than men. Seventy percent of working fathers express a preference to work outside the home (interestingly, the same percentage as working women without children)—10% lower than those who don’t have children. While men’s desire to work outside the home is lessened if they have children, 70% is still far higher than the 40% of working mothers who wish to do so.

It’s not so much that women want to opt out of work but rather out of the workplace, finding the culture less accommodating to their needs and broader work-life aspirations. So what can organizations do differently to draw in and support women?

Where Are Companies Failing Women?

  1. Work-at-home policies. While a third of the women surveyed indicated their employers were doing “very well” when it came to permitting them to work at home, another third said their employers were doing “very poorly.” Obviously, some jobs require a physical presence, but most office work can be conducted remotely these days. This is more of a cultural shift since the technology already exists to implement a more malleable work-at-home policy.
  2. Health insurance. Companies also scored relatively low when it came to providing adequate health insurance coverage—of special concern to women raising families. Sixteen percent reported their companies did “very poorly” in this area, and 12% said “somewhat poorly.”
  3. Wage gap. Most think women have achieved equality in the workplace, but as recently as 2015, women still suffered a 20-percent wage gap, making just “80 cents for every dollar earned by men” according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Lower wages paired with higher health insurance premiums and childcare costs make employment a greater challenge for mothers.
  4. Flexible schedules. For many women, pay is less important than flexible hours, whether it be working an earlier or later shift or simply being able to pop out during the afternoon to pick up their kids from school. As employers adapt to these growing demands, they will be able to attract more female candidates.
  5. Sick and vacation leave. Companies seem to be doing better in this regard, with 58% of women stating their employers provided adequate sick and vacation time. That response, however, did not indicate whether the women felt free to take said leave. Some companies may make it difficult or impossible for women to take advantage of leave policies due to scheduling demands and a high-pressure workplace culture.
  6. Opportunity for advancement. While 38% of women reported their employers are doing well in this area, 10% and 14% said their organizations were doing “very poorly” and “somewhat poorly.”

Both mothers and women without children ranked their employers similarly on all six of these factors, suggesting these organizational shortcomings affect all women equally.

How does your organization rank in these areas? Do you consider the workplace hostile or welcoming to women, particularly working mothers, and why? If you’re not sure, let Capiche help you assess the situation. Give Chris a call at 541.601.0114 or email her to explore options.

In our next post, we’ll delve into what motivates women to enter the workforce along with the benefits companies reap by employing women.