Do women take more time off? A Housing Sector case study

Jan 29, 2024 | Blog

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:

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. 

The free HR benchmarking tool – sign up now!

Our platform combines your people metrics with benchmarking data, and provides the tools to plan your next steps – with employee surveys for crowdsourcing solutions, and powerful people analytics technology. The best part? You can sign up for free!

Just sign up, connect your HR platform, and instantly understand your organisation’s performance (and how to improve it). 


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