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Extensive Survey Finds One in Four Women in the Workforce Consider Quitting or Reducing Hours Due to COVID-19

  • Survey of more than 40,000 employees finds that one-quarter of female respondents are considering whether to reduce their hours or quit due to stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Widespread departure of women from workforce could jeopardize their gains and upend company cultures
  • Companies have often taken steps to address employees’ child care needs, but workers often fear that taking advantage of these options will make their employment more vulnerable

Women who have been working during the COVID-19 pandemic have often taken on the additional duties of providing child care and completing housework. A recent survey of 40,000 workers by McKinsey & Co. and suggests that this is causing widespread burnout, with one in four female employees considering whether to quit or reduce their hours.

The study’s authors say this effect would not only wipe out gains women have made in the workforce, but also negatively impact company culture since women have been more likely to push for employee-friendly policies and diverse workforces. They recommend that companies take steps to maintain gender diversity such as adjusting expectations, improving communication, and updating their policies and programs.

The closures of schools and daycares during the pandemic highlighted the importance of child care arrangements, and the challenging situation as persisted as many venues implement remote learning for at least part of the week. About one in four respondents in a separate survey indicated that they were relying on a working parent to be a primary caregiver, mostly due to safety concerns or because the arrangement was more affordable.

Companies have been most likely to offer flexible hours in an effort to help employees balance their career and child care, though they have also offered benefits ranging from discounts on tutors to pop-up schools. Yet employees have often been reluctant to embrace these options, fearing that doing so might make them more vulnerable to termination if their company is in a tenuous position.

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