New Study Finds Women Experiencing ‘Burnout Epidemic’ After Two Years Because Little Has Changed

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I work a full-time freelance writing job, and during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been home with my three children.

At the worst of it, during lockdowns, I struggled to balance work, homeschooling and running a home.

To say that I was stressed last year is the biggest understatement of my life, and to cope, I did a lot of ridiculous things, from trying to learn how to make my own sourdough bread, to day-drinking, and damn near every pandemic trend in between.

But if I ever thought I was alone in the hellscape of motherhood that was 2020 and 2021, there is a new study out that shows that I most certainly was not.

And in some ways, this study is both validating to my personal experience and damn depressing, all wrapped up in some simple data points.

One year ago, a study from Deloitte noted that the female workforce was under intense strain.

The study surveyed 5,000 women from 10 countries and found some startling numbers.

For example, 8 out of 10 women said that their workload had massively increased since the pandemic had started, but so did their home life responsibilities. 57% of respondents said they planned to leave their jobs due to the strain.

And sadly, a quarter of the women surveyed said they were planning on leaving the workforce entirely. 

That was a year ago. Deloitte wanted to know how much has changed in the past year, so they reran their survey.

Guess what they found?

53% of women said their work-life balance was basically nonexistent, and (big shocker) workloads that felt impossible last year had only increased in the past twelve months. 

“Companies need to heed this warning,” Emma Codd, the global inclusion leader at Deloitte told NBC News.

“For employers that want to retain amazing women, this is a challenge. You’ve got these women in your workforce who can contribute so much, and they’re currently sitting there saying: ‘Guess what? I’m burnt out.'”

It isn’t just work-life balance that had the female workforce looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Mental health has played a key role in the massive resignation of women workers. 

According to the Deloitte survey, only 39% of women respondents in 2022 said that their mental health could be best described as good or very good, and 53% rated their mental health as poor or very poor.

The number one reason cited for decreased mental health was burnout.

What’s worrisome, only 27% of respondents said they felt comfortable disclosing to employers that mental health was a reason for work absences. 

But when we dig a little deeper and look at some of what women endure at work, it is easy to see why they may not feel super cozy chatting up HR about their mental health issues.

Single mother working in her son's play area
Adobe Photostock

These stats provide some (not surprising) insights:

  • 59% of women experienced workplace harassment that included unwanted physical touch, advances, repeated disparaging remarks, and microaggressions, including being talked over and patronized.
  • Only 23% of microaggressions were reported.
  • 93% of respondents said they “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.”
  • LGBTQ+ and BIPOC women were 10% more likely to experience harassment and microaggressions specifically because of their genders, race, and ethnicity.

The end of the 2022 report made me sit up with a hopeful air of “f*ck around and find out.” Why?

The survey noted a stark warning for employers who still don’t get it, women are sick and tired of being treated like garbage. 

“When it comes to future plans, the outlook is bleak for employers,” the report reads.

“More than half of women plan to leave their employer within two years.”

It goes on to reveal that only 10% of women surveyed plan to stay with their employers for more than five years, and fewer than 25% say they plan to leave in more than two years. 

We have been talking about over-worked moms are for the better part of two years, and not much has changed.

Unless employers start stepping up and begin offering better benefits, family support like child care, paid family leave, and address some extremely concerning behaviors such as harassment; the workforce will continue to bleed women workers.

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