Construction is an industry that is predominantly represented by men. It is perhaps for this reason that many companies are way behind the times when it comes to offering benefits that specifically address a woman’s needs. If this industry is going to become more inclusive – and if companies are to invest in their female employees – then they need to be looking for ways to actively retain women. Doing so will benefit all parties.
The Current Situation
Many women who work in construction are afraid that, if they become pregnant, they risk losing their job. And, even if they do not lose their job altogether, they worry that their hours could be reduced and they could lose their insurance before giving birth. This can create a dangerous situation, where women are afraid to communicate with their managers, and as a result, continue highly strenuous work that could lead to a miscarriage.
What Companies Can Do
The bottom line is that companies need to be providing resources that help keep their employees safe. For women, these benefits will largely focus on providing family support.
- Reduce Strenuous Labor: Women who are pregnant should not be overexerting themselves. Look for alternative tasks that these employees can take on during their pregnancy.
- Maternity Leave: Paid time off lets your female employees know that they are valuable assets to the company. It also provides job security and a clear career path.
- Breast Pumping Room: Many women who return to work will need time and space to pump milk. Finding a suitable place will help encourage a woman to come back and help her feel comfortable when she does.
- Flexible Schedules: Depending on the nature of your company’s work, this may be difficult to accommodate. However, where possible, allow employees to leave early or come in late so they can balance their family life. It may be possible for them to make up these hours elsewhere.
Of course, every company will have employees with different needs. Not every added benefit will have the same value. For this reason, it is helpful for you to talk to your employees. Consider having a female HR representative meet with your team to discuss their greatest challenges and brainstorm solutions that can be applied across the company. Make sure that women know that their voices and opinions are valuable.
The Long-Term Payoff
Companies who make these types of benefits available to pregnant women and mothers have seen great success. Essentially, it helps women stay in the trades industry as opposed to dropping out of the workforce. This can save huge costs in training new workers and encourages company loyalty and advancement. Maternity benefits are often very affordable and are well worth the cost in the long run.