Mass exodus | The worrying trend of women prematurely abandoning their careers

The worrying trend of women prematurely abandoning their careers

The uncertainty and anxiety created by the pandemic, among other things, encouraged many to stop and consider what the key priorities in their life were. All of a sudden, COVID-19 put people’s lives into perspective like never before and caused many to realise that work truly wasn't the most important thing to them – it’s their families and the people they love.

As a result, 1.75 million people in the UK left their jobs in 2022 to care for family, 84% of which were women. This stat potentially indicates that not only is there still an outdated expectation of the roles of men and women, there may not be enough support available in the workplace for women looking to effectively balance their family life and their career1.

The importance of diversity

Firstly, why do you need to focus your strategy on those that are already set on leaving? The answer lies in what diversity can offer your business – not just culturally but in terms of productivity and innovation.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) has never been so important; it helps to create a workforce that is rich in individuality, has different viewpoints and fresh ways of tackling issues. In a recent report, McKinsey & Company found that businesses in the top quartile for diversity were found to be 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians2. Therefore, if women are leaving your workforce at an excessive rate, they could be taking certain, hard to replace insights and skills with them3.

The ‘sandwich generation’

Many women in their 50s, 60s and 70s are facing a double-sided pressure when it comes to family commitments – not only do they have children and possibly grandchildren that need their time and support, they could also have elderly or ill parents that need care. Those faced with this reality are known as the ‘sandwich generation’ and many that this applies to are understandably spread far too thin to also commit to a full-time career4. With 1 in 5 people in the UK aged 50-64 being a carer to older family members5, it’s clear why so many are cutting their careers short, as family comes above work in the competition for their time.

Disruption caused by the menopause

Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the UK workforce6 – yet are a group that feel widely under supported.

Research has suggested that around 1 million women could be forced out of their jobs because their employers are failing to support them through the menopause and the effect of menopause symptoms7, and it’s no wonder when you look at the stats found by a recent survey:

  • 99% of women feel that their menopausal symptoms have a negative impact on their careers

  • 60% of the women surveyed said their workplace offered no menopause support

  • 1 in 5 women reduced their hours because of menopause symptoms, 12% resigned altogether8

These stats suggest an unsurprising link between a lack of menopause support in the workplace and women not feeling as though they’re in a position to continue their careers through this period of their lives.

What can businesses do?

So, we have outlined the problem, but what can businesses actually put in place to ensure that they are offering the support that these women need to stay in the workforce?

Here are a few examples of employee benefits and other support you can offer:

  • Financial planning support

  • Retirement planning advice

  • Sleep support

  • Flexible working and flexible hours

  • Access to counselling

  • Eldercare planning

  • Menopause support, including but not limited to:

    • Days off to manage symptoms

    • Access to medication

    • Ensuring an open and accepting work environment

    • Encouraging honest communication between your people

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1.Sharp rise in number of Britons leaving work to look after family | Work & careers | The Guardian.

2. Why diversity matters | McKinsey

3. Advantages of employing and retaining older workers |

4. (

5. Sharp rise in number of Britons leaving work to look after family | Work & careers | The Guardian

6. Menopause factfile | Local Government Association

7. More than 1m UK women could quit their jobs through lack of menopause support | Menopause | The Guardian

8. Menopause forces women to leave their jobs or pass up promotions, study finds | UK News | Sky News

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