Sick days. Annual leave. Emergency time off. There’s a lot of legitimate reasons to miss a day or two of work – but as any leader knows, there’s a knock-on effect on the rest of the organisation.
That’s why tackling ‘lost days’ is a priority for some managers. And people metrics and benchmarking can be a useful tool for that, as this article will show with a deep dive on the Housing workforce.
2 things benchmarking tells us about the Housing sector
1. 77.9% of Housing employees are women (compared to the UK average of 49.8%)
2. There are 8.5 lost days per Housing employee (compared to the UK average of 5.7)
We looked at benchmarking data across the UK, with breakdowns into separate industries (research that informs our free benchmarking tool). This research tells us that there are significantly more women and more lost days in the Housing sector.
Is this correlation or causation? And if the two factors are undeniably related, what can leaders do to tackle this issue? What can be learnt by digging deeper?
The research into women and time off work:
- Sick leave: in general, women take more sick leave than men. But why is that? Women are more likely to suffer from a variety of physical and mental illnesses, and also have things like period pain and menopause symptoms to contend with.
- Annual leave: several studies suggest that women also take more of their allowed annual leave (although on average, they are entitled to less than men). Familial responsibilities are likely a driver here, due to an imbalance in childcare division, though “men’s work schedules, supervisory duties, and concerns about job security” also may play a part in their lower take-up of leave.
- Parental leave: it will come as no surprise that women take more parental leave than men – the global average being 191 days, compared to men’s 21 days. Though there’s a necessity for women to take more parental leave, this level of disparity could be avoided with the introduction of more equal policies for parental leave.
Women in the Housing sector: 3 factors to consider
1. Higher-than-average proportion of women
Our research suggests there are more women in the Housing sector – which means any variance in the amount of sick days, holidays, or parental leave will be compounded. What was a negligible difference becomes amplified, just due to the make-up of the workforce.
Given the studies suggesting differing attitudes towards leave from men and women, the gender ratio could also exacerbate any increase in days off – as it may have resulted in a culture of acceptance around taking time off (positive, given the risks of presenteeism).
2. Lack of women in senior positions in Housing
Another consideration is that, despite making up more of the entire workforce, women are underrepresented in the senior leadership of this sector. Poeple in senior positions are under more pressure to come into work, no matter what, and would be more motivated to do so – and as women are notably absent from Housing’s leadership teams, this is probably a contributing factor.
3. Frequent issues with sexism and discrimination
58% of female Housing employees say they haven’t experienced gender equality in their career – with 28% having been subjected to outright sexism. 50% believe they have to work harder than men to achieve success, with attitudes around maternity leave, gender roles, and unconscious biases causing a hostile environment. Is it really a suprise that someone would prefer to be at work less, if that were the case?
The takeaway: benchmarking highlights problems & guides us to solutions
When it comes to Housing, leaders can use the information above to guide their decision-making – making sure their organisation becomes more equal, inclusive, and understanding to reduce sickness absences in their most-prominent demographic.
This is just one example of the power of benchmarking. By comparing your organisation to industry-specific and UK average benchmarks, you can identify challenges – and spot avenues to investigate, so you can find practical solutions.
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