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Drop in burnout in the workplace, but mental health is still poor—and stigma remains

Written by Staff Writer

August 29, 2023

By Sinazo Mkoko

Women want more flexibility at work, but it is still not a reality for many and this is impacting their career choices. This is according to Deloitte’s Women @ Work report, which explores the experiences of thousands of working women across ten countries.

While the 2022 report revealed that a significant number of women reported experiencing burnout, non-inclusive behaviours in a workplace context, and challenges while hybrid working, the 2023 report offers some glimpses of improvement as rates of burnout have dropped, non-inclusive behaviours have declined, and most women are responding positively to hybrid work.

“While this is encouraging news, an overwhelming number of women around the world still face these challenges. And our data shows that other factors have worsened. The number of women who feel unable to switch off from work has increased, indicating an ever-growing always-on culture. And the number of women who feel comfortable disclosing mental health concerns to their employer has decreased—despite more than a third of women rating their mental health as poor or very poor,” the report said.

The report also revealed that women are still experiencing non-inclusive behaviours, and many are still not reporting them to their employers.

“44% of respondents reported experiencing harassment and/or microaggressions in the workplace over the past year. While this is a significant decrease from the 59% who reported this in 2022 (and 52% in 2021), it remains that nearly half of women have experienced this behaviour. Similar to last year, the majority of behaviours experienced were microaggressions, but this year reporting of these behaviours has increased, with 44% reporting the experience to their employer—a notable increase from 23% in 2022,” the report noted.

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While the drop in burnout represents some progress, mental health is still poor, and stigma remains, the report noted.

“Although this year has seen a significant decrease in women who report feeling burned out—just under 30% versus 46% last year—and respondents rate their overall mental well-being as slightly better than last year’s, the picture remains concerning. Over a third (35%) rate their mental well-being as poor or very poor, and, similar to last year, around half of respondents report that their stress levels are higher than a year ago. Fewer women say they get adequate mental health support from their employers, and several factors point to persistent workplace mental health stigma.”

It was also reported that a lack of flexibility in working hours is driving women to quit, and it remains a top factor in their career decisions.

“For women currently looking to leave their employer, lack of flexibility around working hours is the most cited reason—much more important than flexibility around location. For women who have left an employer in the past year, insufficient pay is the top reason, followed by a lack of flexibility around when they work and a lack of work/life balance,” the report stated.

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