Meredith Corporation the leading media and marketing company, reaching more than 185 million American consumers, including nearly 90 percent of U.S. millennial women—today announced the release of its landmark new study, “Burnout Flashpoint,” about the impending stress epidemic that American women will continue to confront in 2020. Produced in partnership with The Harris Poll, the exclusive study found that women across generations feel more stressed, tired, overwhelmed, anxious and burned out across every aspect of their lives than in the past—and significantly more so than their male counterparts.
Nearly half of the women surveyed said the burnout they feel is so extreme that it keeps them up at night (48%), and 49% said that “work-life balance is a myth.” At the same time, two-thirds of Gen Z women surveyed said, “The way things are going, I don’t know how I’m going to cope with the stress if it continues at this pace.”
Considered an official medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization, since earlier this year, “burnout” is reaching epidemic levels across America. Although women report similar levels of burnout as men at work, the study found that women are much more likely than men to experience burnout at home, with their social lives, and as parents. The vast majority of women feel that the issue is bigger than themselves, with 81% of women saying American society glorifies being busy.
“Women are facing an increasing amount of pressure in all aspects of their lives—work, home, relationships and as parents,” said Alysia Borsa, Chief Marketing and Data Officer of Meredith. “Women are telling us, quite simply, that it’s just too much. If we aren’t careful about helping women address their feelings of stress and help lessen them, marketers run the risk of alienating women or driving them away from digital platforms completely.”
Feeling stretched between worlds, nearly two-thirds (63%) of women said, “After handling all of my family’s needs in the morning, I feel like I’ve worked an entire day before getting to the office.” Nowhere is this squeeze felt more than by the Sandwich Generation, 73% of whom agreed with this sentiment. The Sandwich Generation, which includes 30 million women, represents those who are responsible for children and an older parent at the same time.
To combat burnout, 73% of women have added or considered adding a wellness regimen to their routine (though in a paradox, adding a wellness regimen can amount to just one more thing on a woman’s already exhausting to-do list), while 65% have taken or considered taking a break from social media.
In the study, “Love-hate” was the top description used by women to describe their relationship with social media. Many women are willing to give up social media altogether in an effort to reclaim their time. One-third of women (35%) said they would give up all social media apps for a month to gain back an hour of free time back each week. A similar number (37%) said they would give up alcohol, while 25% said they would give up sex and 24% would give up chocolate to regain this time.
According to the study, brands play a paradoxical role when it comes to burnout, both fueling and helping fight burnout among women. Most of the women surveyed (61%) said brands don’t understand the pressure women face today, but one-third said they respect brands that treat them as an individual, help them answer questions in a moment of need, align with social causes they care about and create content tailored for them. In particular, women facing burnout seek brands that provide bite-sized content that makes them laugh (54%), teaches them (41%), brings new ideas (40%), helps them escape and unwind (38%) and inspires positive changes (35%).
“Brands that know how best to communicate in an authentic way with women who are experiencing burnout have an undisputed advantage given these findings,” Borsa explained. “It’s clear that there are opportunities for marketers and content leaders to help ease this growing tension in multiple areas, ranging from health and wellness to parenting and work-life balance.”
Other key findings from the report are as follows:
- 77% of women said they prioritize their family’s needs over their own, and 60% said the one person they never have enough time for is themselves.
- Although 67% of women said they wish they could say “no” more often, 54% said they often feel guilty when they need to take a break or rest.
- Gen X women are particularly likely to opt out of counterproductive tech time, with more than half saying they actively avoid online rabbit holes. They are also more likely to crave “no phone zones” in the house (41%).
To produce the report, The Harris Poll surveyed 2,015 U.S. adults, including 1,036 women, spanning Gen Z, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers, in May 2019.