Combatting Burnout: The Role of Inclusion in Supporting Women in Business

We’re in a business world these days that’s going so fast, it’s like we’re supercharging ahead, but, burnout has become a critical issue, particularly affecting women who often juggle multiple roles both professionally and personally. As a DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) organisation focused on empowering women in business, addressing burnout through enhancing workplace inclusion is paramount. Our approach focuses on six key sentiments that significantly influence feelings of inclusion and, consequently, help mitigate

Burnout, characterised by emotional exhaustion, disengagement, and a sense of inefficacy, affects nearly half of the workforce globally. For women, the risk is exacerbated due to additional challenges such as gender bias, balancing family responsibilities, and often, a lack of supportive workplace structures. Interestingly, our research highlights that burnout is strongly linked to low feelings of inclusion. Women who do not feel valued, respected, and supported are more prone to burnout.

Six Key Sentiments to Enhance Inclusion and Reduce Burnout

To create an inclusive environment that supports women and reduces burnout, organisations should focus on the following areas:

Access to Resources:

Flexible Scheduling: Women often require different flexible work arrangements to manage their dual roles effectively. This could include stable schedules for caregivers or dynamic options for those pursuing further education.

Support Services: Providing access to childcare, elder care, and other support services helps women balance their responsibilities more efficiently, reducing stress and potential burnout.

Senior Managerial Support:

Mentorship and Advocacy: Having senior leaders who actively mentor and advocate for women can foster a sense of belonging and support. It’s essential for women to see themselves reflected in leadership roles.

Visibility and Recognition: Regularly recognising and celebrating women’s achievements can boost morale and reinforce their value within the organisation.

Psychological Safety with Direct Managers:

Open Communication: Encouraging an environment where women feel comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns without fear of reprisal is crucial.

Inclusive Leadership Training: Training managers to create psychologically safe spaces can lead to greater innovation and engagement among women employees.

Fair and Equal Opportunity for Success:

Transparent Promotion Paths: Clear, unbiased criteria for promotions and career advancement ensure women see a future for themselves within the organisation.

Diversity in Leadership: Actively working towards a diverse leadership team helps in demonstrating commitment to equality and provides role models for women aspiring to senior positions.

Work-Life Balance:

Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering options such as remote work, flexible hours, and compressed workweeks can help women manage their professional and personal responsibilities more effectively.

Supportive Policies: Implementing policies that support work-life balance, such as generous parental leave, wellness programs, and mental health days, can alleviate stress and prevent burnout.

Professional Development Opportunities:

Continuous Learning: Providing opportunities for women to upskill and reskill through workshops, courses, and seminars can boost their confidence and career progression.

Career Advancement Programs: Establishing programs that identify and nurture potential female leaders within the organisation can ensure women have the support and resources needed to advance their careers.

To genuinely support women and reduce burnout, organisations need to adopt innovative strategies tailored to the unique needs of their female workforce:

Customised Benefit Packages: Offering benefits that cater to different stages of life and career needs, such as parental leave, mental health support, and financial planning assistance.

Continuous Feedback Mechanisms: Implementing regular surveys and feedback sessions to understand women’s experiences and adapt policies accordingly.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Facilitating ERGs where women can connect, share experiences, and support each other can build a strong community and foster inclusion.

Remote Work Options: Embracing remote work can help women manage their work and personal responsibilities more effectively. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 54% of employees preferred remote or hybrid work models, with women particularly valuing this flexibility.

Health and Wellness Programs: Offering comprehensive health and wellness programs, including mental health resources and stress management workshops, can support women in maintaining their well-being. A 2021 report by Deloitte found that employers who invest in mental health programs see a return of $4 for every $1 spent due to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Transparent Pay Practices: Ensuring pay equity through transparent salary practices can significantly enhance feelings of fairness and inclusion. A 2023 study by McKinsey found that women are still paid 83 cents for every dollar earned by men, highlighting the need for ongoing efforts to achieve pay equity.

These following companies all have examples where they have implemented programmes or systems, and how they have directly positively impacted the organisation’s growth:

Microsoft’s Commitment to Inclusion: Microsoft has implemented a variety of programs to support women, including mentorship networks, leadership development programs, and flexible work policies. Their commitment to inclusion has resulted in a 20% increase in women in leadership roles over the past five years.

Salesforce’s Equality Initiatives: Salesforce has introduced robust policies to ensure pay equity and career advancement opportunities for women. Their comprehensive approach includes annual pay audits and dedicated resources for women’s career growth, contributing to a 33% increase in employee satisfaction among women.

PwC’s Flexible Work Model: PwC’s flexible work model allows employees to design their own schedules, which has been particularly beneficial for women. This initiative has led to a 15% reduction in burnout rates and a 12% increase in employee retention among female staff.

Creating an inclusive workplace where women feel valued, supported, and have equal opportunities for success is not just beneficial for the employees but also for the organisation. By focusing on the key areas of resource access, managerial support, psychological safety, equal opportunity, work-life balance, and professional development, businesses can significantly reduce burnout and enhance overall productivity and engagement. As we strive to empower women in business, let’s commit to fostering a truly inclusive environment where every woman can thrive.

Speak to Netwomen about how we can support your employee wellbeing through inclusion:

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Pinky Ghadiali

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