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September 15, 2021

Study: Women reporting higher rates of workplace burnout than men

Photo | Pixabay

Burnout rates in the U.S. workforce remain high, according to a new study from property and casualty insurer The Hartford, and women are increasingly reporting higher rates of job-related exhaustion than men.

The Hartford’s survey, which polled roughly 2,000 U.S. adults in late July, found that 61% of respondents reported feeling burned out at work — exactly the same level as in February, when The Hartford conducted a similar analysis.

One big change since winter, however, was the apparent divergence between the workplace experiences of men and women.

According to the survey, 66% of female workers reported experiencing burnout, compared to 52% of male workers. In the February study, that gap had been narrower, with 66% of women and 57% of men acknowledging they felt overextended and overwhelmed in their working lives.

As an explanation for the discrepancy, researchers pointed to a study from McKinsey, which found that working mothers are grappling with a “double shift” of work, household responsibilities and child care, compounded by a more difficult remote work experience in fields that offer that option. McKinsey’s analysis found that one in four working women in North America were considering “downshifting” their careers or dropping out of the workforce entirely.

“This high level of burnout and growing gap for women should be cause for alarm for business leaders,” said Jonathan Bennett, head of employee benefits at The Hartford. “The need for flexibility in the workplace has never been greater as the lines between work and home continue to be blurred amid the pandemic. Fostering an open, inclusive work environment that provides flexibility is an important step in addressing burnout and helping employees remain productive at work.”

The Hartford’s study found that workers experiencing burnout were more likely to be searching for a new job. Respondents said better pay, career growth prospects, flexibility and enhanced benefits were their main motivators.

When asked what policies and practices might help alleviate burnout, workers offered a number of suggestions, including additional paid time off (22%), a condensed four-day workweek (22%), schedule flexibility (17%), remote work options (13%), company-wide mental health days (13%) and a lighter workload (12%).

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