New research reveals that almost 46 per cent of female tech professionals are experiencing burnout.
Mason Frank International, a Tenth Revolution Group company, conducted a study on burnout, specifically amongst women in cloud tech roles. The research found that a further seven per cent were unsure about how burnout was impacting them, indicating that more than half may be experiencing heightened stress at work.
According to Mason Frank president, Zoë Morris, while the COVID-19 pandemic created more flexible hours, it also changed the way people work, normalizing working at any hour.
“People are really grateful of the flexibility that COVID has given. But I think it made the working day become longer because everybody is doing their own eight hours at a different time. So it feels like this perpetual cycle of people online every single day.”
In the IT sector specifically, digital transformation and transition to the cloud has also put a lot of pressure on IT workers, adding on workload and stress, she said.
Morris broke down the different types of burnout into three categories: exhaustion, chronic cynicism and inefficiency.
In terms of exhaustion, when it comes to female tech professionals in family arrangements where mothers are taking on the main responsibilities of their children on top of their job, burnout can heighten, she said.
A 2020 survey from health startup Maven found that working moms in the United States are suffering from workplace burnout, with an estimated 10 million women struggling to juggle their responsibilities.
“From an exhaustion point of view for women..the employer is going ‘Oh, it’s great. We give you flexibility to go and pick your children up from work’, but then the expectation is that when you’ve done all that, then you’re back online after in the evening, and that cycle is fine for a short time, but it’s not sustainable,” she said.
On top of that, Morris said the last six months have been challenging times for many organizations, with economic uncertainty while companies try to figure out what’s next, coming out of the pandemic.
This can lead to inefficiency in the organization.
“Everyone’s working on these different schedules. My eight hours might not be your eight hours. Trying to connect and have that in person time where you just get a problem sorted, it becomes protracted over a number of team meetings that don’t get the resolution, as opposed to if you sat in person in a room and just sort of bashed out the problem,” she said.
She also touched on the potential consequences the tech sector could face if solutions to help with burnout aren’t addressed.
In fact, Canada could miss out on over C$161 billion of cumulative growth if the digital skills shortage isn’t addressed, and women are key to closing the gap, a report from Accenture found.
“IT is one of the sectors that has one of the most greatest challenges with equality in the workplace, but also within leadership. There’s only 17 per cent of females in tech today,” Morris said. “If you think about the missed opportunity and the missed skill set that’s out there, you’re missing out on a huge gene pool of individuals.”
She suggested that before we address burnout, it’s more important to encourage young girls and women to join STEM fields.
“We can try and fix it up here [at organizational levels], but I think unless there’s a significant change at the grassroots level, this is just going to be a perennial problem for decades to come.”
Guiding women as they are choosing their university and high school subjects is vital, and will require large businesses to work with governments to help funnel this change.
However, Morris did give tips on how organizations can help lessen burnout and stress levels right now. She said companies need to be prepared to ask difficult questions in order to find out how their employees are truly feeling. Employee questionnaires with generic questions won’t be effective.
“There’s no point just asking very generic questions and having a very bland data set. It’s about finding out what the challenges in your company might be, because they’re not the same in every company. I don’t think one solution fits all.”