“Although significant strides have been made in recent years in recognising the value of diversity and inclusion in corporate South Africa, women in the workforce still grapple with unique challenges that demand special attention. As progressive workplaces seek to empower their employees and create an inclusive environment, a well-crafted corporate wellness strategy that caters specifically to women is not just beneficial but essential.”
writes Jessica Spira, Managing Director of Virgin Active South Africa.
Climbing the career ladder is an entirely difference experience for women. The expectations placed on working mothers are often unrealistic and rigid, forcing them to strike a delicate balance between professional ambitions and family responsibilities.
Women may also battle gender stereotypes which can lead to feelings of isolation and under-appreciation. Sexual discrimination of varying dregrees is still very real and negatively impacts women’s mental and physical health. The result is an unrelenting juggle of time and energy, leading to exhaustion and, in the worst case scenario, burnout.
A recent survey has revealed that 32% of working women suffer from burnout, with over half of women in leadership positions saying they feel burnout on a consistent basis. The survey also revealed that in terms of parental burnout, 68% of working moms experience it, compared to 42% of working dads. To understand the full gravity of these numbers, we must first understand that burnout isn’t simply a buzzword.
Burnout is a very real workplace issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ that results from chronic workplace stress that has not been effectively managed. Although not classified as a medical condition, prolonged exposure could result in a number of physical, physiological and emotional problems including insomnia, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches, high blood pressure, depression and even heart disease, to name but a few.
Because this chronic stress syndrome is directly related to the workplace, organisations must recognise that there is incredible value in creating corporate wellness initiatives that enable women to find a better balance without having to compromise in any area of their lives.
These initiatives can include:
Unfortunately, for a large percentage of the female workforce, their employers may not recognise the need for these types of interventions yet. So what can women do to ensure they are managing their stress in the workplace?
Here are some helpful tips:
Being a successful and strong women doesn’t mean never showing vulnerability. In fact, it is often this vulnerability that makes women such incredible leaders. The key for companies is to understand that no two employees are the same and that it’s crucial to ensure a workspace that empowers women to find their work life balance and thrive.