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Pandemic takes heavy toll on working women’s wellbeing, motivation and careers

19 May 2021

  • Only 31% of UK women say they have good work-life balance, down from 71% pre-pandemic;
  • Half of women say the relationship with their employer has suffered as a result of increased caring responsibilities;
  • Working women’s mental health has worsened with just 27% declaring good mental health compared to 68% pre-pandemic;
  • Nearly half (48%) of women feel burned out.
  • Findings come from Deloitte Global’s research of 5,000 working women across 10 countries, including 500 in the UK.

Increased workloads and household responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic are driving deep dissatisfaction among many women in the workforce, according to a new Deloitte Global report: ‘Women @ Work: A global outlook’. Deloitte Global conducted a survey of 5,000 women in 10 countries, including 500 working women in the UK, to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s personal and professional lives.

A fine balance

The UK survey reveals 7 in 10 (71%) UK women rated their work-life balance as good or extremely good pre COVID-19, while today only 31% said this. Three-quarters (76%) of UK women also said that their workload had increased since COVID-19.

Jackie Henry, managing partner, People and Purpose at Deloitte UK, said: “The last year has been a ‘perfect storm’ for many women facing increased workloads and greater responsibilities at home and a blurring of the boundaries between the two. Women’s job satisfaction and motivation at work have been severely impacted since the start of the pandemic, with only 32% telling us they currently feel satisfied and motivated at work, compared to 70% before COVID-19.”

Only 4 in 10 women in the UK said their employer has provided sufficient support to women since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, 44% of women said their career isn’t progressing as fast as they would like, while 59% feel less optimistic about their career prospects today compared to before the pandemic. A quarter (24%) of women are considering leaving the workforce altogether.

Henry added: “Increased workload and caregiving responsibilities are the top reasons why women in the UK would consider leaving paid employment. In fact, our UK respondents cited an increase in caregiving responsibilities more often than the rest of our global sample with 31% in the UK versus 23% globally.”

Decrease in wellbeing

The research also revealed a decline in women’s mental wellbeing. Pre-pandemic, 68% said their mental wellbeing was ‘good’ or ‘extremely good’, while today only 27% of women said this. In addition, nearly half (48%) of women reported they feel burned out.

Only 20% of women said their employer has provided additional financial support during the pandemic to help alleviate the mental health impacts to women. Similarly, only 19% of women have had their objectives reset to match the context of the pandemic.

“While the adverse impact on women’s wellbeing, motivation and engagement is obvious, our research also shows that some employers are getting it right,” continued Henry. “The women who work for these employers are more engaged, productive and satisfied with their careers. As we start to rebuild workplaces for the future, we have a golden opportunity to get gender equality and inclusion right and avoid setting back years of progress.”

Responsibility

Two in five (40%) women said that they are the chief child carer, compared to just 28% globally. Also, a quarter (24%) of UK women said that they have the greatest responsibility for caring for dependents other than children.

When it comes to household tasks, 75% of UK women said that it is their responsibility, compared to 66% globally. 36% said they are the only person in the household able to do household management and nearly a third (30%) live with a partner who does not want to share the load with any household management.

Women in the UK who said that their careers are not progressing as fast as they would like at the moment were more likely (42%) than their global counterparts (34%) to note that caregiving and household responsibilities are making it difficult for them to progress in their careers.

Half (50%) of respondents said the relationship with their employer has suffered due to a change in working hours as a result of an increase in caring responsibilities. Approximately a quarter (26%) said they are now given less responsibility in their role and 23% feel they are less likely to be considered for a promotion.

“The survey findings are a stark reflection of the reality, responsibilities and wellbeing of working women in the UK and what needs to be done to reverse the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on this group of people.” Henry added: “A staggeringly low number of women - only 4% - expect to remain at their organisation for more than five years.

“As businesses look to rebuild their workplaces, the organisations that prioritise diversity and inclusion in their policies and culture - and provide tangible support for the women in their workforces - will be more resilient against future disruptions. Additionally, they will lay the groundwork needed to propel women and all gender equality forward in the workplace.”

-Ends-

Notes to Editor

For more information and to view the full results of Deloitte Global's 2021 Women @ Work Report, visit: www.deloitte.com/womenatwork

Between November 2020 and March 2021, Deloitte Global conducted a survey of 5,000 women in 10 countries to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s personal and professional lives. The survey also aimed to understand the state of gender equality in the workplace from an intersectional lens and the types of actions that employers are taking to support, retain, and empower women within their organisations.

The surveyed countries are:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Germany
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Deloitte surveyed 500 women in the United Kingdom and evaluated responses through the intersectional lenses of race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

About Deloitte

In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Please see deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

For more information, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

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