Employee burnout on the rise, especially among female leaders

This content is sponsored by McKinsey & Company.

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, especially working women. A recent study conducted by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org shows that women are burning out, increasingly more than men.

The study, Women in the Workplace, is the largest survey on the state of women across corporate America. The report looks at women’s workplace experiences, how they compare to men, and intersectionality with race, LGBTQ plus, and disabilities.

“What we are seeing is that women and men are all burned out,” said Megan McConnell at partner at McKinsey & Company. “Women are more burned out than last year, and they are increasingly more burned out than their male counterparts.”

The pandemic has exacerbated trends noted in previous reports showing that women work twice as much as men, at home and in the office. The work is reflected in what McConnell describes as the first, second, and third shifts, where women are working a traditional nine-to-five, carrying the burden of responsibilities in the household, and then logging back on to advance workplace initiatives like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

“Our research found that women are doing 60% more work when it comes to supporting the emotional well-being [of employees],” said McConnell. One in five senior women says they work on DEI outside of the typical workday, compared to one in 10 men.

The “invisible work” women perform daily is helping organizations survive, but unfortunately, their efforts are often unseen and undervalued. The added stress that accompanies the increased workload is leading many to their breaking point.

“One in three women overall are considering not only just leaving their job, or taking a big downshift in their career, but completely leaving the workforce,” said McConnell. The burnout effect signals a significant risk for companies to lose their top female leaders and the advancements they’ve made.

To counter burnout, McConnell recommends that organizations take a test and learn approach, develop a plan, implement it and get employee feedback. One of the tools offered by McKinsey & Company is the Organizational Health Index, which is a roadmap for measuring the health of an organization as it relates to performance and mission outcomes.

“We actually can prove in the research that organizational health can account for as much as 50% of performance variation over time in organizations because that’s what makes it sustainable,” said McConnell. “Thinking about ways in which you’re measuring those things and then taking targeted interventions is what we’re advising our clients to do.”

In addition to the test and learn approach, organizations are encouraged to measure the work senior leaders are doing, and more importantly, their results.

Are your teams diverse, are employees engaged, and do your employees report a positive sense of well-being?

These measurements can be incorporated into performance reviews and connected to compensation incentives, leveling participation for female leaders and their male counterparts.

To learn more and read the entire Women in the Workplace report, visit womenintheworkplace.com.

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