Women are more likely to suffer work burnout than men, study finds

It can cause everything from headaches and insomnia to chest pains


Sarah Young
Thursday 31 May 2018 11:33 BST
Female workers were found to be more likely to feel that they do not have enough savings to maintain a decent standard of living in retirement
Female workers were found to be more likely to feel that they do not have enough savings to maintain a decent standard of living in retirement

Women are more prone to work burnout than men, new research suggests.

Exhaustion in the workplace is common among both men and women but a new study has revealed an alarming difference in the rates at which it is suffered between the sexes.

Following 2,026 people – half of whom were women - in a wide variety of workplaces for four years, researchers from Montreal University analysed participants’ emotional exhaustion, cynicism and professional effectiveness.

Interestingly, it discovered that women were more likely to suffer work burnout than men.

Why? Because they are less likely to be given positions of power, which causes them to become overwhelmed with frustration.

“Our results show there are differences between men and women because, from the outset, employees are subject to different working conditions depending on their gender,” said study author and professor of population health, Dr Nancy Beauregard.

“Indeed, female employees often burn out at a faster rate simply because of the nature of their work.

“Many women have positions that offer little latitude in decision-making, meaning that their work only provides them with a low level of authority and decision-making power and makes little use of their skills.

“This type of position, which men are less likely to hold, causes women to burn out.

The research also revealed that along with not having enough authority at work, low self-esteem, difficulties balancing work and family life, and work encroaching on time spent on loved ones, can all lead to burnout in women.

It is a problem which can cause headaches, lack of motivation, a feeling of helplessness, chest pain and higher odds of heart disease and immune disorders.

Another interesting finding was that household chores can help to lower the risk of burnout in the short-term by providing a distraction from work-related stress.

“We observed many women use household chores as a strategy to escape the demands of their work and to 'vent',” Beauregard added.

“In the short term, this can be a protective mechanism against burnout.

“In the long term, however, this strategy can become a trap and result in missed opportunities for advancement, causing women to remain confined to positions with low decision-latitude.”

For men, the research found that factors leading to burnout tend to be related to time management including having to work more hours or when they have atypical schedules.

However, some factors were found to be unrelated to gender including employment insecurity and a lack of recognition at work.

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