Workplace Stress—Hindering Progress Of Women

Progress and excellence is a hard thing to achieve. We all know this, and with a 9 to 5 job, it is even harder to achieve. Deadlines, meetings, last-minute updates make this working life stressful at times, especially for the women. While it is true that women strive to be perfect in all areas of their lives, they lack only one ability that hinders their growth and success—the ability to deal with workplace stress.

Stress at workplace is a very real thing and is largely responsible for the low motivational levels experienced by women across the world. According to some official estimates, women aged 25-54 experience more stress than their male counterparts at workplace and there are plenty of reasons for that.

Let’s explore the reasons behind the trigger of stress that women feel at their workplaces and how can these be overcome.

Workplace Stress Reasons For Women

  • The Burden of Responsibilities

When women work, they handle more than just their office work. They are also responsible for looking after their families and making sure that everything is in place before they go out to work. In fact, working mothers are still expected to perform household chores irrespective of their work hours and routine. This burden of responsibilities related to managing household chores and working life leaves them drained and exhausted, with over half of them wishing to abandon their jobs as a result of stress.

  • The Glass Ceiling

Ever heard of “glass ceiling effect”? The term is commonly used to denote an invisible barrier that prevents women and minorities from advancing up the levels in a corporation. It is a pervasive resistance to the advancement of women that prevents them from attaining higher levels of positions at their workplace. Although this effect has somewhat dimmed with the passage of time and with greater number of women joining the working ranks, it is still present in large conglomerates and corporations. As a means to dampen the effect of this barrier against women advancement at workplace, more corporations are now focusing on providing women with perks such as job leaves, flexible working hours and better pay. Despite that, glass ceiling effect is still prevalent in the rapidly localized and globalized world of today, and a 2003 study showed that only 7 to 9% of upper management at Fortune 1000 were females—a fact that demands due attention and remedial measures.

  • Inflexible Work Environments

The inflexible work environment plays a huge role in triggering the stress that women feel at workplace. Many companies have a tough routine of 9 to 5 job with 1 hour of break in between that leaves little room for relaxation. These inflexible working hours, combined with the pressure to fulfill responsibilities at home leaves women drained and exhausted, triggering stress and frustration.

The inflexible work environments is not just related to the inflexible working hours, but also include pervasive issues such as discrimination, sexism and gender stereotypes that plague the progress of women at workplace. Men are given higher ranks at workplace, they are appreciated more and are given a higher priority during the board meetings. This discrimination is the main cause behind the resentment that women feel which not only hinders their progress, but also lowers their spirits and performance.

  • The Pay Gap

Apart from the discrimination that women face at work, one other thing that lowers their motivation and leads to stress is the pay gap. The pay gap refers to the income differences that women face which leaves them lagging behind on the pay scale as compared to their male counterparts. This pay gap, although of an unjust nature, is a big contributor to the stress that women face at workplace and is even prevalent in large corporations and firms. According to Official for National Statistics (ONS), in 2013, this pay gap was found to be almost 15% on average across the globe, with estimates of average £100 per week in UK alone.

Implementing Stress Management Techniques for Women

Although organizations recognize the costs that stress exerts on women, researchers on the workplace stress emphasize on implementing both internally and externally directed measures to manage the stress that women face in their workplace. These are:

  • Promoting equity in pay and benefits for women in order to reduce the pay gap that affects the motivation of women and hinders their growth
  • Promoting benefit programs that are of special interest to women
  • Eliminating occupational segregation and discrimination by implementing a performance management program that evaluates results based on performance metrics and achievement of monthly targets
  • Producing a bias-free evaluation program by setting performance measures and achievable targets for all the employees, regardless of the gender
  • Providing equal pay by implementing a wage system of equal starting salary for both males and female employees and fixed salaries for different posts that are subject to increments according to performance
  • Training and education to male employees about workplace harassment, discrimination and implementing a strict regulatory framework for accountability in case of any incident of harassment of sexual or work-related nature
  • Provision of parental leave and childcare days and holidays for working mothers as well as day care facilities for small children
  • Providing more job flexibility for men and women to better manage work-life balance
  • Support and implement programs for training and equipping women with the right skills and tools to advance in their respective fields and job occupations.

The Last Word

Workplace stress is a generally broad term that affects individuals irrespective of the gender. But it is one of the main things that affect the women in workplace owing to a number of factors that are responsible for affecting their morale. Although many companies and corporations now recognize the need to provide more open and flexible work environment to women, they are still far away from eradicating the discriminations and biases against women at workplace.

As we advance to tougher times where technology and business advancements are taking control, we must not leave our women behind in the race to achieve greater business growth. It is high time we recognize the trigger factors that lead to stress for the fairer sex, as this group does not leave any stone unturned in the advancement of corporations.

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