By Rachel Thomson and Sheryl Sandberg
Before the coronavirus crisis hit in the U.S., many women already worked a “double shift,” doing their jobs, then returning to a home where they were responsible for the majority of childcare and domestic work. Now, homeschooling kids and caring for sick or elderly relatives during the pandemic is creating a “double double shift.” It’s pushing women to the breaking point.
According to recent surveys by LeanIn.org and Survey Monkey conducted in April, one in four women say they are experiencing severe anxiety with physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat. One in 10 men say the same. More than half of all women are currently struggling with sleep issues. Women, especially black women, were more likely than men to worry that they wouldn’t be able to pay for essentials in the next few months.
And 31% of women with full-time jobs and families say they have more to do than they can possibly handle. Only 13% of working men with families say the same. Our research indicates that this disparity is not because men aresimply shouldering equally heavy burdens with greater ease. Instead, women are disproportionately feeling overwhelmed because they are disproportionately the ones working day and night to keep households afloat.
Consider the coronavirus-era schedule of a typical woman who works full time and has a partner and kids. She’s now spending 71 hours every week on housework and caregiving, including the new responsibilities of the pandemic, according to our survey data. That’s nearly two full-time jobs—before she starts doing her actual full-time job. Meanwhile, men in the same situation are doing 20 fewer hours of labor every week. For women of color and single moms, the demands are even greater.
Employers must work to relieve this stress. We know companies are under tremendous financial pressure during this economic downturn, but helping their teams avoid burnout and illness needs to be a priority. That is how they’ll get the best out of their employees amid all this disruption and retain those workers when the crisis is over.
Only 40% of employees say their companies have taken steps to increase flexibility since the pandemic began, and fewer than 20% say their employer has rejiggered priorities or narrowed the scope of their work. That’s not enough. Leaders and managers should move any deadline that can be moved, take a second look at targets set before the pandemic, rethink the timing of performance reviews, and remove low-priority items from the to-do list.
At Facebook, we suspended our usual performance ratings—instead, all employees will receive bonuses as if they exceeded expectations for the first half of the year—and created an extended childcare benefit and new leave options for caregivers. We’ve also allowed managers across the company to reshuffle priorities on a case-by-case basis. Not every employer can or should follow these exact steps, but finding ways to lighten your employees’ loads can make a big difference.
Originally posted on Fortune