Last reviewed 4 May 2022

After conducting a survey of 5000 women in 10 countries, including 500 working women in the UK, Deloitte Global has issued a report, Women @ Work: A Global Outlook, which highlights that widespread burnout and lack of flexible work continue to hinder working women’s career progress.

In the report, which can be found here, Deloitte notes that 47% of UK women say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago, and almost half (46%) feel burned out.

A similar percentage (47%) of women said that they want to leave their employer in the next two years, again with most citing burnout as the reason.

The research also found that 30% have taken time off work because of mental health concerns, yet only 45% feel comfortable talking about these concerns in the workplace. Compared to the UK and global average, the proportion of burnout is greater amongst younger women and women in ethnic minority groups (58%/51%).

Many organisations have introduced flexible and hybrid work models, although many women report they have yet to feel the benefits of these new ways of working.

Only 37% of women say their employers offer flexible working policies, and when asked about policies introduced by their organisation during the pandemic, only 23% mentioned flexibility around where and when they work. Almost all (95%) respondents believe that requesting flexible working will affect their likelihood of promotion.

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

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Whilst burnout is not a new concept, the prevalence of it within workforces and wider societies has led employers to recognise the importance of supporting emotional and mental health.

Failure to recognise burnout as a serious issue and non-provision of effective support tools can lead to high levels of absenteeism, reduced motivation and productivity, increased turnover rates and, ultimately, an inefficient workforce.

As such, introducing mental health first aiders and providing empathy and emotional intelligence training to managers can be a great first step in alleviating the issue.

Employers should also review workloads to ensure employees aren’t overwhelmed and consider alternative arrangements to better support their people, such as through flexible working and dedicated paid “duvet days”.