Potential exodus of women from Czech labor market could cripple companies

With every fourth woman considering leaving the labor market, Czech companies could suffer devastating consequences.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 24.08.2022 15:54:00 (updated on 24.08.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

After two years of the pandemic, the perspective of many women on their careers has changed. According to a study published by the McKinsey Global Institute, 25 percent of working women considered quitting their jobs and leaving the labor market. 

The demanding reconciliation of personal and work lives during the pandemic often led to extreme exhaustion and in many cases even burnout. For many women, switching to the home office marked an increase in their workloads both at work and at home.

The exacerbated gender gap has impacted women's mental health, careers, and ambitions. Research by Deloitte also revealed that the pandemic led to even greater challenges for LGBTQ+ women and women of color, who reported lower levels of mental well-being and work-life balance.

In the Czech Republic, an exodus of women from the workforce would have fatal consequences for companies. The Czech labor market is already impacted by a long-term shortage of applicants, across almost all sectors. The current unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, which – according to the latest available Eurostat data – represents one of the lowest values in the entire European Union. 

At the end of June, employers offered a total of 319,408 job vacancies through the Czech labor office, and there are an average of 0.7 job seekers per job vacancy in the Czech Republic. 

With the demand for workers still exceeding the supply, the departure of such a number of women from the Czech labor market would be crippling. There are currently almost 3,100,000 women of working age, and a quarter of them represents 775,000 women.

However, the crisis could be averted by offering reskilling courses and adjusting working conditions, suggest Colliers analysts.

Thanks to digitization and new technologies, a huge number of new jobs are created that allow greater flexibility, remote access, and better reconciliation of personal and work lives. These positions can represent an opportunity for women who are now considering leaving. 

“Companies are switching to digital processes at a fast pace, they are pushing for maximum paperless and automated operations that utilize the potential of digital solutions. As a part of this transformation, it is also necessary to evaluate what can be offered to people in positions that will no longer be needed, and how to reskill them within the company,” explains says Jana Vlková, Director of Workplace Advisory at Colliers.

Furthermore, the pronounced gender pay gap could be another demotivating factor for many women. On average, women in the Czech Republic earn a fifth less than men, losing one month's earnings due to the gender pay gap. This disparity is among the widest in the European Union.

Meanwhile, empowering women in the workplace could unlock as much as €146 billion annually in GDP for the CEE region, says a study on the potential of a gender-balanced society across Central and Eastern European countries.

Wage transparency is a viable solution to the issue of the gender pay gap. "Transparency is a set of rules and tools for everyone to know what the pay range is for specific roles," says Lenka Simerská, head of the Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ Project 22% EQUALITY. She added that EU directives slated to become part of Czech law over the next few years will help the country follow the trajectory of gender-pay-gap reduction.

Another important aspect of empowering women is helping them achieve work-life balance in a predominantly patriarchal Czech society. This could be done by implementing more part-time employment opportunities. According to Eurostat, only 10% of Czech women work part-time; in neighboring Austria, the proportion is 50%. In the Netherlands, a whopping 36.9% of the total workforce has part-time jobs; in the Czech Republic, it is only 4.9%.

However, a growing number of companies are willing to consider flexible workspaces after positive experiences with remote work. Flexible arrangements are commonly found in the business service sector, particularly, with some companies allowing mothers to start work earlier so they can pick up children from school or even offering an on-staff family adviser.

Promoting fair working conditions, implementing flexible arrangements, and adjusting the working environment could help Czech companies avoid staffing crises and at the same time promote gender equality.

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