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Working women face high burnout despite hybrid working: Deloitte report

By Rekha Balakrishnan
April 26, 2022, Updated on : Tue Apr 26 2022 13:07:14 GMT+0000
Working women face high burnout despite hybrid working: Deloitte report
Representing the views of 5,000 women across 10 countries, including 500 in India, the latest Deloitte report, “Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook" shows worrying long-term impacts as rates of stress and experiences of harassment or micro-aggressions remain high.
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Widespread burnout and lack of flexible work continues to hinder progress in supporting working women, according to the latest Deloitte report, “Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook” released on Tuesday.


The research reveals that 56 percent of women say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago, and almost half feel burned out. This burnout is a top factor driving women away from their employers: nearly 40 percent of women actively looking for a new employer cited it as the main reason. More than half of those surveyed want to leave their employer in the next two years, and only 9 percent plan to stay with their current employer for more than five years.

Representing the views of 5,000 women across 10 countries, including 500 in India, the research shows worrying long-term impacts as rates of stress and experiences of harassment or micro-aggressions remain high. The survey also illuminates troubling findings about the “new normal” of work, as almost 61 percent of women working in hybrid models (arrangements that include any combination of remote and in-office work) report they have already felt excluded.

“While the hybrid model has been touted as a best-of-both-worlds scenario, giving people the comfort of working from home and the connectedness of working from the office, the survey tells us that women professionals seem to be facing the disadvantages of both instead, with year-on-year increases in caregiving responsibilities and stress levels, as well as a higher likelihood of experiencing microaggressions during hybrid working. It’s time for all organisations to walk the talk when it comes to support structures and growth mechanisms for women professionals if they are to prevent loss of diversity of thought, crucial for balanced decision making,” says Mohinish Sinha, Partner and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader, Deloitte India.

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Stress, burnout, and limited advancement opportunities

Fifty-six percent of women say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago, and almost half feel burned out. Moreover, almost half of the women surveyed rated their mental health as poor/very poor. One-third have taken time off work because of mental-health challenges, yet only 41 percent feel comfortable talking about mental-health concerns in the workplace.


The number of women looking for a new role at the time of polling increased since last year’s survey, with 9 percent saying they were actively looking. Thirty-seven percent of that group cited burnout as the top reason driving them away. Amongst those who have already left their employers, nearly a quarter cited burnout as the reason.


When it comes to future plans, the outlook is bleak for employers: more than half of women plan to leave their employer within two years. Only 9 percent of women surveyed plan to stay with their current employer for more than five years.

Workplace problems persist

While many organisations over the past year have pivoted workplace strategies to incorporate flexible and hybrid work models, many women report they have yet to feel the benefits of these new ways of working.

Only 33 percent of women say their employers offer flexible-working policies, and when asked about policies their organisation had introduced during the pandemic, only 23 percent cited flexibility around where and when they work.

Moreover, 94 percent of respondents believe that requesting flexible working will affect their likelihood of promotion. Beyond flexibility, the implementation of hybrid work has presented additional challenges. Sixty-one percent of women who work in hybrid environments feel they have been excluded from important meetings, and 47 percent say they do not have enough exposure to leaders, a critical component of sponsorship and career progression. Worryingly, hybrid work appears to not be delivering the predictability that women with caregiving responsibilities may need, with only 35 percent saying their employer has set clear expectations when it comes to how and where they are expected to work.


This year’s survey also found that women who work in a hybrid environment are significantly more likely to report experiencing micro-aggressions than those who work exclusively on-site or exclusively remote. The percentage of women in India that have experienced non-inclusive behaviours (harassment + micro-aggressions) over the past year at work has decreased a bit from 63 percent in 2021 but remains high at 57 percent in 2022. The top three micro-aggressions faced by women in India included being interrupted and/or talked over in meetings, not being invited to traditionally male-dominated activities, and being excluded from informal interactions or conversations. Only 24 percent of non-inclusive behaviours were reported to employers.

Women and gender equality leaders reap benefits

Deloitte’s research identified a group of “gender equality leaders,” organisations that, according to the women surveyed, have created genuinely inclusive cultures that support their careers, work/life balance, and foster inclusion. The research also identified a group of “lagging” organisations, where women have a less inclusive, low-trust culture.


Women who work for gender equality leaders report far higher levels of well-being and job satisfaction. Of the women who work for them (5 percent of respondents), 87 percent say they receive adequate mental health support from their employer, and the same percentage feel comfortable talking about their mental health in the workplace. They also report far more positive experiences with hybrid working. Remarkably, only three percent feel burned out.


“Building and maintaining a truly inclusive culture should be at the forefront of every corporate agenda,” says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer. “This means organisations need to address burnout, make mental well- being a priority, and approach hybrid working with inclusive and flexible policies that actually work for women. There is a unique opportunity to build upon the progress already made to ensure women of all backgrounds can thrive in an equitable and inclusive workplace.”


Edited by Kanishk Singh

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