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Women Continue To Face Alarmingly High Levels Of Burnout & Stress In The “New Normal” Of Work


April 26, 2022 – The evolution of the workplace was already happening prior to the pandemic, but over the past two years, the shift has accelerated. While there are many benefits of the “new normal” of work, the struggle of creating a more flexible, balanced way of working remains a challenge.

By Michele Parmelee – Brand Contributor Deloittre

The responses of 5,000 women in the workplace across 10 countries from Deloitte’s Women at Work 2022: A Global Outlook, make clear that the disruption caused by the pandemic as well as shifts to the “new normal” of work are taking a heavy toll on women. Burnout, for example, has reached alarmingly high levels. Additionally, many women have made career and life decisions driven by their experiences with burnout over the past year. For some, this has meant seeking new, more flexible working patterns; for others, it has meant leaving their employers or the workforce entirely.

Our findings, highlighted below, reveal substantial challenges for employers—but they also show the positive impact of those organizations that are getting it right.

Widespread burnout fueled by rising stress levels

Fifty-three percent of women surveyed say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago, and almost half feel burned out. While this year’s respondents rate their mental wellbeing as slightly better than last year’s, almost half say their mental health is poor/very poor. One-third have taken time off work because of mental health challenges, yet only 43% feel comfortable talking about these challenges in the workplace. Additionally, the “always on” culture remains—more than one-third of women rate their ability to switch off from work as poor/very poor.

The Great Resignation is set to continue

More women are likely to be looking for a new role than they were a year ago, and burnout is the top driving factor: nearly 40% of women actively looking for a new employer cited it as the main reason. For those who had already left an employer since the start of the pandemic, “lack of opportunity to advance” was the most common reason. More than half of the women surveyed want to leave their employer in the next two years, and only 10% plan to stay with their current employer for more than five years.

Despite widespread shifts in working arrangements, flexibility is not a reality for many women

Although women are slightly more likely this year than in 2021 to say that their employer offers flexible working policies, the number is still low: just one-third of women (33%) say their employer offers this. Even more worrisome, an overwhelming number (94%) believe that requesting flexible working will affect their likelihood of promotion, and 90% believe their workloads won’t be adjusted accordingly if they request flexible-working options. Additionally, women who have reduced or changed hours during the pandemic, as well as those who work part-time, have paid a high price: they are suffering significantly lower levels of mental wellbeing and motivation at work.

Hybrid working: An opportunity for change—but challenges exist

While the hybrid way of working presents opportunities if done rightincluding, enabling many to maintain the flexibility that remote working can affordit also creates a risk of exclusion for those not physically present. Almost 60% of women who work in hybrid environments feel they have been excluded from important meetings, and almost half say they do not have enough exposure to leaders, a critical enabler of sponsorship and career progression. Additionally, only around one-quarter of women say their employer has set clear expectations of how and where they should work, which causes challenges for those requiring predictability (often as a result of caring responsibilities).

Harassment and microaggressions are on the rise—and often go unreported

The majority of women (59%) have experienced harassment (such as unwanted physical advances or repeated disparaging comments) and/or microaggressions (such as being interrupted or talked over or being patronized, for example) over the past year at work. Exactly half of women say they have experienced microaggressions, and 14% have experienced harassment. As in 2021, the majority of these behaviors—69%—don’t go reported, with microaggressions much less likely to be reported to an employer. Only 23% of microaggressions are reported compared to 66% of harassment behaviors. An overwhelming number of women still fear reprisals for speaking up: 93% believe reporting non-inclusive behaviors will negatively impact their careers, and most feel that their employers won’t take action even if they do report these behaviors.

Looking through an intersectional lens, women face more challenges

While non-inclusive behaviors impact the majority of respondents, women in ethnic minority groups and LGBT+ women are more likely to have experienced microaggressions. For example, LGBT+ women are more than 10% more likely to say they have been patronized or undermined by managers because of their gender. And women in ethnic-minority groups are significantly more likely to be excluded from informal interactions, feel patronized, and receive disparaging or belittling comments about their race or ethnicity compared to those in their country’s ethnic majority.

Inclusive, supportive organizations gain a competitive advantage

As in our 2021 research, this year we identified a group of women (albeit just 5% of the sample) who work for “Gender Equality Leaders” (GELs)—organizations that, according to the women surveyed, have fostered genuinely inclusive cultures that support them and promote mental wellbeing. Compared to the overall sample, women who work for GELs are more likely to indicate their companies have a clear route to report discrimination and harassment and that their organization’s commitment to supporting women has increased since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, these women are more likely to say their organizations offer access to developmental programs and formal mentorship programs.

Women who work for these companies report far higher levels of engagement, trust, and career satisfaction, and they also plan to stay with their employers longer. They also report more positive experiences with hybrid working, with only 14% saying they have felt excluded from meetings/interactions and only 7% saying they don’t have enough exposure to leaders. Remarkably, only 3% of women working for GELs reported being burned out, compared to 46% of respondents in the overall sample. Women employed by GELs also receive greater mental health support: 87% say they get adequate mental health support from their employer, and the same percentage feel comfortable talking about their mental health in the workplace.

Building and maintaining a truly inclusive culture should be at the forefront of every corporate agenda. This means organizations need to address burnout, make mental wellbeing a priority, provide developmental opportunities, have formal processes for reporting non-inclusive behaviors, and approach hybrid working with inclusive and flexible policies that actually work for women. We have a unique opportunity to build upon the progress already made to ensure women of all backgrounds can thrive in an equitable and inclusive workplace.

Извор: WUNRN – 08.08.2023

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