By Anja van den Berg
A year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, women in the workplace are even more burned out than they were pre-pandemic – and increasingly more so than men.
According to the latest Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey, women are rising to the occasion as stronger leaders and taking extra work on despite added stress and exhaustion. The report states that, compared with men at the same level, women are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
At least the dark cloud has a silver lining. Despite their own increasing levels of burnout, research also indicates that women are much more likely than men to take action to fight it.
Female leaders are more likely to manage their teams’ workloads, support diversity and inclusion efforts, and check in on their employees from an interpersonal perspective. Their efforts are paying off. For example, the report found that where leaders actively manage their teams’ workloads, staff are 32% less likely to be burned out and 33% less likely to resign.
In general, however, companies are not recognising – or incentivising – female leaders who go over and above the call of duty. The grim reality is that these companies will lose the very (female) leaders they so need if they don’t recognise and reward their value. The research shows that, while 87% of respondents agreed that it was “very or extremely” critical that managers support employee wellbeing, only a quarter put their money where their mouths are.
Companies will start haemorrhaging talented female leaders if they don’t fully invest in them and equip them. Day-to-day line managers – those in the closest supervisory position to staff – are especially prone to resignation.
Research proves that people managers, especially women, are more likely to be burned out than those who do not manage people, so companies must do more to alleviate pressure and retain these employees who have stepped up to lead at a critical time.
Women leaders are thus caught in the ultimate burnout catch-22: they are fighting it off and doing more to combat it among their employees. Companies can support female managers’ efforts in addressing burnout by empowering them.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Set company-wide norms to curtail off-hours communications.
- Equip managers with the training and resources to lead.
- Formally recognise the work managers do to support employees.
- Recalibrate the manager’s workload to offer time for wellbeing.
Harvard Business Review:
McKinsey & Company: