Like every cliche article written in the last two years, this one will start off the same way – the pandemic has changed everything – from the way we live to the way we work. And with that shift in work, there has been a growing restlessness among employees that we’re now seeing come into action.
People are increasingly reporting feelings of burnout, mental health has taken a toll, and there’s a new level of stress and anxiety at work. The Great Resignation has been covered extensively as a direct result of this. But what hasn’t been getting as much coverage is the gender differences spurring on this change and the different motivations men and women have. Is there more to the Great Resignation than what meets the eye?
Women and the great resignation
According to recent stats, women have exited the labor force at twice the rate of men. In fact, this is the lowest rate of female participation in the workforce in over three decades. When you read that over, it sounds kind of insane, doesn’t it? We keep seeing more articles and more buzz around women in the workforce, breaking glass ceilings…and yet we’re also seeing more women quitting all of a sudden as the pandemic came into full force.
But as we look deeper, what’s actually coming out of this resignation is that women are quitting because of all the pressures they face, such as family and eldercare, childcare, and responsibilities at home. For other women, the stress, anxiety, and pressure of working in toxic cultures have led to a decision to leave.
Juggling childcare responsibilities (with sky-high costs), work stress, burnout, and more, women have faced immense pressure since the pandemic – without a lot of support.
Women are not being prioritized in the Great Resignation
In 2020, McKinsey ran one of the largest surveys around women in the workplace and found quite a few reasons behind what is driving women to leave the workforce:
- Lack of flexibility
- Needing to be “always on.”
- Housework and caregiving burdens exacerbated by Covid-19
- Stress/worry around negative performance being judged due to other responsibilities
- Discomfort around sharing personal challenges with teams and managers
- Being excluded from decision-making
- Feeling like they cannot be their authentic self at work
What’s interesting is that at this point (nearly the end of 2021), during the time of writing, not much has changed. Companies might have stepped up to some extent, but considering the statistics around resignations…clearly, it hasn’t been enough.
Women are still being deprioritized in the workplace, and not many employers are willing to be truly flexible.
Women are leaving because the structure of the workplace just cannot support their needs. With retention being such a huge challenge for employers during this time, you’d think there would be work being done on recognizing that employees aren’t just a cog in the machine but have a whole life outside of work that they can’t just leave at the door. But we’re also seeing that not many workplaces have actively tried to alleviate any of that pressure.
2022 will likely follow the same patterns unless employers step up
Another study led by Qualtrics from this year, the Employee Experience Trends Report for 2022 predicts the trend will continue in 2022. Their research found that fewer people were likely to stay at their current job compared to last year – with women in middle management positions 3x more likely to find a new job in the new year.
Until employers take a deeper look at their own policies and work practices, and the overarching workplace culture, retention will still be a massive challenge. To start with, employers can work on addressing mental health concerns, providing tangible benefits, and creating a culture of support and understanding – rather than a toxic one filled with blame and judgment.
The one benefit from this though for women? There is so much more room for growth and so many new pathways opening up. Whether it’s taking time out for personal reflection, doing courses, working on career trajectory, and/or trying something new.
This is the right time to take stock of what’s important, how you like to work, and what you like to do…and if your current job isn’t doing it, turns out there are plenty of employers looking if you decide to join the workforce again.
The influx of resignations has also meant that there are lots more positions open than before. Or, this could be your time to lead, rather than follow, and pursue opportunities for yourself. If you require support with this transition,