A lot has changed about the working world over the past several years, with the pandemic blurring the lines between work and home life more than ever before and disproportionately impacting women.
At last Monday’s Women > A Force in Business Conference: Raleigh, more than 700 attendees learned how to navigate that new normal, be allies to other women, and combat growing workplace burnout. They also heard strategies for career advancement, leadership development, and achieving work-life balance. The following include a few of the themes and solutions discussed during the event.
Achieving better life balance and beating burnout…without quitting your job
Approximately 43% of female leaders say they feel burnt out at work, compared to 31% of men at the same level. Additionally, among women who have not yet left their employer but are actively considering it, 38% cited burnout as the reason.
Opening keynoter Colleen Hauk shared tools on combating toxic workplace stress before it hits a crisis state. There are six balance points in life: professional, personal, health, financial, relationships, and fun. Hauk emphasized that, “If you don’t structure those things yourself, someone else will do it for you.” She said to achieve fulfillment, you must look at each balance point of life and define what you want those areas to look like by being able to describe them with vivid detail, clearly articulating what you want.
Warning signs of workplace burnout include feeling depleted or exhausted, becoming mentally distant from your job or having negative feelings about your job, and having reduced professional efficacy. Hauk recommends ranking yourself weekly in each of these categories to help keep burnout in check. Finally, she emphasized the importance of asking your employer for help if you need it. “So much of what is going on with burnout is because of lack of communication,” says Hauk.
The impacts of active allyship and mentorship
Engaging with colleagues as allies and mentors is critical according to Brenda Velasquez Wagner, chief diversity and inclusion officer for BASF, who said, “Queens fix other queens’ crowns.” The theme of women in the workplace looking out for one another was woven throughout the event.
Numerous panelists also talked about the important role men play in acting as mentors and ensuring women have a seat at the table. Stephanie Jensen, a vice president at BASF, spoke about Employee Resource Groups as a helpful allyship tool. “You are more likely to call on those people who reinforce your thinking,” she said. “Instead, have a go-to group of colleagues who you know will call you out if you’re wrong and also challenge your thinking.”
A diverse resource group ensures you’re thinking about those who aren’t in the room and advocating for underrepresented populations. Active listening and reinforcing positive things co-workers say and do can go a long way.
Finding value in your work, staying true to yourself, and having fun too
During a time of reevaluation for many, attendees learned strategies for illustrating their value, having tough workplace conversations, and setting boundaries. Asking introspective questions such as: “Who am I?, Who do I serve?, Who Are my People?, Why do I do this?, Why do I think this?, and Why are things this way?” will help anyone find more fulfillment in their professional lives.
While women have a tendency to place a lesser priority on their wellbeing, speakers emphasized not sacrificing mental, physical, or emotional health for the sake of a job and surrounding yourself with diverse individuals for career and personal growth.
Having fun and inserting humor into the workplace can go a long way in providing overall fulfillment in terms of restoring and nourishing yourself as an individual as well as reducing stress and improving productivity. According to communications pro Sharon Delaney McCloud, “The most successful people take their work seriously but themselves lightly.”
All photos from the conference can be found here.
Interested in attending next year’s Women > A Force in Business Conference: Raleigh? Sign up for registration alerts here.