It’s no secret that many women in tech feel the need to outperform their male counterparts and as a result, they often sacrifice their work-life balance. Studies have shown, time and time again, that people who maintain a healthy lifestyle are less likely to experience burnout, yet women always seem to be taking on more than their fair share of work, both in and out of the home.
Despite the fact that burnout has existed for decades, it is still a widespread issue all over the world, putting workplace safety at risk. The statistics are especially clear when it comes to women in tech being very susceptible to burnout, regardless of their career status. The most recent McKinsey & Company, in partnership with LeanIn, report shows that 43% of women leaders are burnt out. Another concerning sign is the alarming number of women who are considering quitting their jobs or “downgrading” to a less demanding career (c. 25%).
We’re seeing the highest rates of job-switching among women leaders than ever before – and at higher rates than men in leadership positions. This could have serious implications for companies, especially since women are already significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. For years, the “broken rung” at the first step up to management has prevented more women from rising through the ranks. Now, companies are struggling to keep hold of the relatively few women leaders they have.
The reasons women leaders are stepping away from their companies are telling. Women leaders are just as ambitious as men, but at many companies, they face headwinds that signal it will be harder to advance. They’re more likely to experience belittling microaggressions, such as having their judgment questioned or being mistaken for someone more junior. They’re doing more to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, but this critical work is spreading them thin and going mostly unrewarded.
Women leaders feel it is increasingly important to work for companies that prioritise employee well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and flexibility. However, they often put in a lot of extra effort to support these workplace initiatives without much recognition or reward. Leaders could use some more support in this area so that they can maintain a good work-life balance and not get burnt out from doing too much.
The report showed that for every 100 men promoted into leadership positions, only 87 women were promoted and only 82 women of colour for equivalent posts. This leaves women feeling that they have to do more, just to receive the same and hence why they put in more effort.
If companies don’t take action, they risk losing not only their current women leaders but also the next generation of women leaders. Young women are even more ambitious and place a higher premium on working in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace. They’re watching senior women leave for better opportunities, and they’re prepared to do the same.
Our senior company leaders HAVE to sit up, pay attention and take action before we start trending backwards.
How to Recognise Burnout
Recognising you are burning out, or approaching burnout is key to ensuring it doesn’t actually happen.
Here are some signs:
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Lowered immunity
- Frequent headaches, back pain, or muscle aches
- Change in appetite or sleep habits
- Feeling helpless and hopeless
- Decreased motivation
- Increasingly negative outlook
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
- Taking out frustration on others
- Coming in late or leaving early
Do you recognise any in yourself? Of course, having one or two, or even a few more, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in a burnout situation, but if you can look back and notice that how you feel now, compared to a time before is wildly different then it’s time to take action.
What can Women do to AVOID Burnout?
Whilst we continue to advocate for changes to be made, we, as women, have to ensure we are taking care of ourselves too. When we reach burnout, it’s too late. When is the last time you took some time to yourself?
Here are a few things you can do, which won’t take up a lot of time, but WILL help to clear your mind and could make you more efficient at work too.
- Go for a walk
Put your headphones on, get outside for some fresh air and clear your head. Even a 15-20 minute walk will help you and when you get back you will be able to focus to get back on to the task in hand.
You can build in short bursts of mindful meditation breaks into your workday. Or, just start with a singular five minute meditation. There are many on streaming platforms or search engines.
- Drink plenty water
This might not seem like an obvious one, but we hear it from time to time. When we don’t drink enough water, we can lose focus. Losing focus means we are having to work harder to get tasks done.
- Take breaks from technology
Obviously we’re not talking about work here. When you take a break, or before bed – stay off of your phone/tablet and give your eyes a rest from the blue light.
- Read/listen to/watch something funny/non-work related
Whether it’s an article, short funny video on YouTube or a podcast – something that isn’t work related and can totally take your mind off of it, just for a little while. Then you can reset and come back.
In conclusion. There is still more to be done in the workplace for women to be equal to men, and until such time that equality has been reached, women will more than likely continue to push themselves harder than their male counterparts. If you feel you relate to this then please take some steps to counteract the effect, before you reach burnout!