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

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.

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

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.

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.

Ms 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.”

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.

Ms Henry continued: “While the adverse impact on women’s wellbeing, motivation and engagement is obvious, our research also shows that some employers are getting it right. 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.”

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.

Ms Henry added: “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. 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.”

Share icon
Share this article: