Stress forcing women out of the workforce

Women in the UK feel more stressed today than they did a year ago, and nearly half (47%) say it is the reason they will likely leave their job in the next two years.

This is just one of the shock UK-findings from Deloitte’s latest ‘Women@Work’ report – a global study which looks into the at-work experiences of more than 5,000 women in ten different countries.

Nearly half of women polled (46%) said they felt burned out, while 47% described their mental health as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

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A third 30% of UK women had taken time off work because of mental health concerns, but only 45% said they felt comfortable talking about these concerns with managers.

Overall, the report found that burnout was the main reason women were looking for new roles. It found 40% of women actively looking for new jobs cited burnout as the main reason, while 38% said they were looking for new opportunities because they had a lack of work-life balance.

Women were facing particular pressure to always be available, with 34%  saying their ability to ‘switch off’ was poor.

Among women who said they couldn’t switch off, 42% admitted fearing it was due to worries that their careers could be affected if they weren’t constantly available.

Michelle Parmelee, deputy CEO and chief people and purpose officer, Deloitte Global, said: “The responses from around the globe make it clear that women’s everyday workplace experiences are having a detrimental impact on their engagement, work/life balance and wellbeing.”

Commenting on the UK data Jackie Henry, managing partner for people and purpose at Deloitte UK, said: “These findings are alarming. The number of women reporting increased stress and burnout is of significant concern.”

She added: “It is clear that employers are struggling to address the issue, with burnout being the top driver for those women currently looking for new employment. The findings of this research show the importance of actions beyond policy - those that truly address and embed wellbeing, flexibility, and a respectful and inclusive everyday culture.” 

Worryingly, the research also discovered that even when women had changed their hours – by either reducing or changing their hours – they still reported significantly lower levels of mental wellbeing and motivation at work.

Deloitte found burnout amongst women that had changed their hours rose to 65%, compared to 22% for women who had not changed their working hours.

Stress was also higher amongst those who had changed their hours compared to those who had not (70% vs 31%).

Meanwhile far fewer of the changed-hours cohort felt they could talk about mental health than those who had not (26% vs 65%).

Last year ONS data highlighted that women’s mental wellbeing was more negatively impacted than men’s during the first year of the pandemic, while last autumn, research by wellbeing company, Lifeworks, also found women had lower mental health scores than men due to burnout.