On International Women’s Day, new research finds that two in five women are worried about burnout following the pandemic, calling for more support from HR teams to aid employee wellbeing. 

Research conducted by O2 has found that almost half of women are concerned about burnout following the pandemic, with over two-fifths (41 per cent) citing it as a professional concern over the next one to three years.

Other ways that women believed their careers have been impacted and will continue to be affected is the working hours they take on.

Almost a fifth of women (18 per cent) and one in seven men (14 per cent) have reduced their hours during the pandemic. However, of this group, only 16 per cent of women stated that they were “very likely” to return to full time hours. However, for men, this was over half (51 per cent) – showing that women’s careers have been disproportionately altered due to COVID-19.

A further fifth of women (19 per cent) also expressed concern about the gender pay gap widening in light of the pandemic in comparison to only 3 per cent of men. This issue has become even more focal following the announcement that the reporting of the gender pay gap for UK companies has been extended by a further six months.

Despite this, the research has shown that HR teams in the UK are largely doing a good job to support women during this time – with around two-thirds (64 per cent) stating that they feel well supported when it comes to flexible working.

However, only under half of women (46 per cent) felt well provided for when it came to mental health and wellbeing provisions, suggesting that there is still more to be done.

Catherine Leaver, O2’s HR Director, said:

Moments like International Women’s Day are important to take stock and reflect on progress – but more importantly to take action.

The pandemic has clearly created additional pressures and challenges, disproportionately affecting women as well as ethnic minorities and those under 30. It’s vital as HR leaders that we look at what can be done to accelerate women’s success and wellbeing in the workplace moving forwards.

Vanessa Kilburn, co-chair of the O2 Women’s Network, added:

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Choose to Challenge” – an incredibly important reminder for us all to continue collectively championing women’s rights in the workplace and beyond, and call out gender bias and inequality when we see it. Crucially we all have a role to play in that, regardless of our gender, which is why this year we’re also looking at how men can be strong allies in this space and can help tackle some of the issues highlighted by this research, which also impact men.


*To obtain this research, O2 commissioned YouGov to survey 1,012 employees on the impact of the pandemic on experiences at work.