Tuesday, June 25 2024

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Work is Bad for Health

A total of 93 per cent of women in the marketing and communications industry say that a lack of work-life balance has negatively impacted their mental health in some way, says a new study released today by professional network for women Bloom UK.

The study, entitled ‘The Juggle’ surveyed over 700 women working in advertising, marketing and communications. With more than 225,000 people working in UK advertising and marketing and 35,000 people in PR and communications, the study is the industry’s biggest consultation into women’s work-life balance through an intersectional lens.

The research reveals that over half (54 per cent) of women frequently feel overwhelmed by their workload, and a third have limited or no control over the amount of work assigned to them. Two thirds of women engage in overtime at least once a week, but only 16 per cent say they’re happy to do it. Shockingly, more than four in five (83 per cent) women surveyed said that they have experienced physical health issues as a result of a poor work-life balance, with two fifths (43 per cent) experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or burnout.

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The survey also intentionally sought the views and experiences of a diverse group of women. This included parental status, ethnicity, sexuality, age, seniority, whether they have health conditions, are neurodivergent, or are experiencing perimenopause or menopause.

The survey found that two fifths of women of colour (41 per cent) don’t feel their work allows for a healthy integration of personal and professional life, compared to a third (31 per cent) of white women. Moreover, over half (54 per cent) say there’s a lack of representation or inclusion in decision-making processes in comparison to white colleagues. The research also reveals that South Asian women are significantly more likely than other ethnic minority groups to frequently feel overwhelmed by their workload, and they’re more likely to say that work doesn’t allow for a healthy integration of personal and professional life.

On suggesting ways to improve, two-thirds (65 per cent) of women of colour would like to see their employer offer mentorships, coaching or sponsorship programmes for women of colour, and over half (52 per cent) would like to see mandatory cultural sensitivity and diversity and inclusion training rolled out in their workplace.

In contrast, women who identified themselves as queer rated their current work-life balance higher than heterosexual women (54 per cent versus 46 per cent who rate it good or excellent). Moreover, queer women are slightly less likely to frequently feel overwhelmed by their workload, although 51 per cent still do. However, the workplace isn’t doing enough for queer women; 15 per cent feel their work-life balance is impacted by their queer identity, and 15 per cent have experienced microaggressions or stereotypes related to being LGBTQIA+.

Elizabeth Anyaegbuna, Bloom President 2023-24, said: “At Bloom, we know that for many women the lines between work and life are increasingly blurred. The demands of careers intertwine in complex responsibilities and identities outside the workplace. That’s why we set out to uncover realities and drive positive change around this elusive concept of ‘work-life balance’ through our research, The Juggle and we have been intentional in reflecting all voices as best we can to better understand the challenges faced.

“The data confirms many women shoulder a disproportionate burden, especially those facing intersectional challenges,” she adds. “With The Juggle, we aim to equip managers and leaders to foster supportive, equitable workplaces. The goals are simple: policies, cultures and spaces where women can thrive holistically, with their needs understood. Most managers want to support their teams. This data will help overcome unconscious biases and drive change. Employees too can advocate more effectively for support by making the business case with the findings from The Juggle.”

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