LONDON — Research data released by independent UK network Women in PR reveals women working in the communications industry are disproportionately more concerned about burnout, the lack of promotional opportunities and return to work in comparison to women working in other industries.

Data from a study carried out by Opinium Research between March and April revealed 83% of women in communications roles are concerned about burnout, compared to 50% of women working in other industries. Other concerns included the impact of work on their mental health (77%), opportunities for promotion (68%), while 59% felt the pandemic has slowed their career progression.

The survey was completed by 172 female UK PR professionals working or currently furloughed; of these, 28% work in public sector or non-profits, 37% work in agencies, 18% work in house and 10% are freelance contractors. The survey was also sent to Opinium’s omnibus panel for comparison, comprising 320 female UK office workers.

‘Zoom fatigue’, lack of separation from work and longer working hours were seen as the biggest downsides, while the lack of commute and remote working were seen as the top positive impacts of pandemic working practices.

In response to the research, Women in PR has set out its first year-long programme to support women working in the communications industry as they come out of the pandemic.

The programme includes launching the network’s first ‘Skills Sharpening’ events series, focusing on sharing practical tips on everything from asking for a pay rise and promotion, to public speaking and team management.

It also includes a new partnership between Women in PR and Head Office, which helps businesses support the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Head Office will provide bespoke resilience workshops for women in communications roles this year, including equipping attendees with evidence-based tools to identify and deal with stress and guidance on how to build resilience.

The research also showed that four out of five women want a hybrid working model (part time office/part time home) post pandemic, and 90% think employers need guidelines around flexible approaches to working. As a result, Women in PR will soon be unveiling guidance on flexible approaches to working post-Covid for employers.

Anna Geffert, president of Women in PR and founder of Hera Communication Strategies, said: “Shocking as these insights are, they are all too familiar for many of us. From the weary parents juggling home-schooling with their careers, to working in cramped quarters, zoom fatigue, increased workloads or coping with isolation – Covid-19 has left a lasting impact on all our mental health.

“We are responding to this serious issue by launching our first ever year-long plan to help women in PR manage and maintain their mental health, as well as helping navigate returning to work post-covid and upskilling. Our network has a new role to play as we re-emerge from lock-down and we look forward to rolling these initiatives out as the year progresses; the first of which will be our ‘Building Resilience’ workshop with the brilliant folks at Head Office, later this month.”

Dr. Hannah Taylor, clinical psychologist at Head Office, added: “Take a busy, highly pressurised job and add a global pandemic and it's absolutely no surprise lots of women are concerned about burnout and their mental health. Sadly, there's no single answer but know you are not alone and taking the time to be aware of how we’re feeling and learning small techniques to help us build our emotional wellbeing can really help.”

Click here to book a place on the Head Office Women in PR building resilience workshop on 27 May.