For a happier, healthier you join My Health & Wellbeing for unlimited free access.

Get Started

January Download our guides now!


Are you a wellness warrior?

Vote today

Listen to our podcast today


This Is Why So Many Women Are Quitting Their Jobs

7 MIN READ • 25th February 2022

Whether you’re after a healthy mind, bank balance or relationships, we’ve got all your wellbeing needs covered this month

The lifting of lockdown brought with it many things – the chance to enjoy a glass of wine with friends, the opportunity to head to the gym once again, and a huge sigh of relief from parents no longer having to home-school. But it also created an unprecedented change in the working economy – a mass exodus of employees turning away from their jobs. It’s been dubbed The Great Resignation, and has seen thousands of people change roles or leave traditional employment for the chance to start something new. According to the Office for National Statistics, 791,000 people moved jobs between April and June and, in September job vacancies hit 1.2million – the highest ever on record. It’s a trend that’s mirrored elsewhere in the world too. In America, for example, more than four million people quit their jobs in August, and in Germany more than a third of all businesses were complaining of a shortage in skilled workers in the same month. So, what’s happening?

The impact of Covid-19

It’s clear that the global pandemic has had a big role to play in this. Research published in Human Resource Management shows that people tend to hand in their notice after experiencing big, shocking life events that encourage self-reflection and a re-assessing of priorities, and you can certainly put Covid-19 in that camp. There’s even a term for it – turnover shock.

We’ve all felt emotions such as fear and uncertainty in the past year and this, coupled with the drastic upheaval of our life as we know it, has put things in perspective for many. This changing outlook is something mindset coach Donna Elliott, who’s the co-founder of Now is Your Time (, has said she’s seen among her clients.

“The global pandemic was so unprecedented and has led to many of us questioning our lives and our choices in a way that would likely never have happened,” she explains. “It has given us the opportunity to stop and ask ourselves if we are happy to spend so much time in an office or travelling away from our families. It has given us space to question whether we actually even like our jobs or if we are just in the habit of doing them.”

It’s been particularly eye-opening for women and especially mothers, who are often the primary caregivers in the family and trying to juggle a career with looking after little ones. “For some women, only seeing their children for a handful of rushed hours through the week was the pre-pandemic normal and reconnecting with their children during lockdown has highlighted what many working women were missing out on – and questioning if the ‘sacrifice’ is worth it,” Donna adds.

A demand for better conditions

Closely linked to this is the fact an increasing number of us are becoming less tolerant of unfavourable working conditions. The change in working that the pandemic forced upon many employers has proven that flexible and home working can work in most situations, and it’s something that many people have been fighting for, for a long time.

Take the Flex Appeal, for example, launched by Anna Whitehouse (AKA Mother Pukka) in 2016. Anna begun her campaign for flexible working for all after an employer refused her request to move her working day by 15 minutes to allow her to pick up her daughter from nursery on time. It’s a battle many of us will have faced, but thanks to her work and that of others, the government has now unveiled plans to make the right to request flexible working an entitlement from day one – rather than after 26 weeks of employment. This change in attitude means that companies that aren’t open to such arrangements are now starting to miss out on key talent.

“We have had that taste of greater control and so if we’re forced by our organisations to go back to how things were, the gut reaction is to leave,” says Cate Murden, the founder of wellbeing and performance company Push (

Michelle Minnikin, a workplace psychologist and co-founder of Work Pirates (, agrees. “People will remember how they have been treated by their employers, and if they’ve not been treated well, then they’ll not have the loyalty they once had,” she adds. “More and more companies are offering greater flexibility. Things that women had to fight for pre-Covid such as flexible hours and the option to work from home are now business-as-usual at many places. So, there are more options for people who would prefer to only work a couple of days a month in the office, or like the idea of flexitime. We have more opportunities now and more inclination to take them.”

Bye-bye burnout

And what about burnout? We can’t talk about work in the 21st century without mentioning this. Officially recognised by the World Health Organisation as a medical condition in 2020, it was once believed that burnout was a necessary evil if you wanted to climb the career ladder. However, as Covid-19 has made us reassess our priorities – and is making companies reconsider their working conditions – many women are starting to ask if success really has to go hand-in-hand with exhaustion.

“Somehow, over the years, we’ve ended up buying into the idea that burnout is this noble, virtuous pursuit,” says Cate. “That if we aren’t burnt out, we aren’t trying hard enough, we don’t love our job enough, we clearly aren’t that ambitious. And so, being the highly ambitious people that we are, we subscribed to that narrative – ignoring the mental health red flags and burning ourselves into the ground because ‘it’s the cost of success’.”

But this view is changing. “With less distraction, we’ve looked more internally about what is actually important to us – and what our purpose is – and with work boiling down to ‘just work’, it has lost a lot of its allure,” Cate adds. “We’re starting to look at what else is essential instead and that can be how we feel and what contributes to that, such as our health and wellbeing.”

So, is it that we’re re-defining our sense of what success really means? Donna certainly thinks so. “I think the traditional definition of success is being challenged and we are now seeing that success isn’t just about your job title or how much money you make. There is absolutely a shift in wanting to have great health and be a great parent, live a simpler life and actively participate in charities or community projects,” she says.

And, while Donna cautions that we have to be careful not to try to ‘do it all’, she says that making time to do the things that bring us joy is vital. “Success to each individual will be different,” she explains. “It’s about each of us looking at our experience and determining whether or not how we are living our lives right now is will enable that.”

For some, then, it’s been about finding companies that prioritise mental and physical wellbeing where they can still drive forward, and for others it’s been about taking their foot off the gas, and finding a new industry or role that is less pressured.

Reshaping our future

What does this mean for our working patterns in the years ahead? The traditional career ladder – complete with long hours and unflexible conditions – may not hold the same appeal to everyone that it once did, but being satisfied at work is still a driving force for many. Ambition too, isn’t necessarily disappearing – it’s just being joined by other priorities.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that gaining more control of the way we work as individuals is something that has struck a chord in recent times. In America, for example, stats point to a ‘freelance boom’ that saw 12 percent of America’s workforce begin freelancing after Covid struck, and in the UK more than 400,000 start-up businesses were created in 2020. Many of these are thought to be ‘passion projects’ that have gained traction during the pandemic and are still thriving now.

“Setting up in business for yourself is significantly easier than it was even five years ago,” says Michelle. “There are so many role models doing it and women are thinking: “If she can do it, so can I”. Confidence only boils down to two things – believing something can happen and believing that you can do it.”

While this may not be the right move for everyone, it’s clear that a desire to focus on the things that are important to us, and to do so in a way that suits our needs, is becoming greater – and this can only be a good thing for both our happiness levels and our sense of achievement.

“There are numerous studies that have suggested that instead of success leading to happiness, it is the other way round. Happiness leads to success. If you are doing something that is personally rewarding to you, that you enjoy, you’ll do more of that thing. You’ll learn more about it and have more opportunities to do well,” says Michelle. “This has always been the case. It hasn’t changed. But people are only just beginning to see this.”

The burning question

Is your job helping you achieve the success you want in life? Cate shares her advice on how to work out what’s important to you…

Covid has put health and wellbeing more in the spotlight than ever and made us realise how uncertain life can be. We’re all different and now is the time to take life into our own hands and work out what success means to us.

Ask yourself:

How do I want to feel more consistently?
What does life need to look like in order for that to happen?
What plan do I need to implement to make that happen?
What can I do tomorrow to start my plan?

Does something need to change?

Leaving your job is a big move and one that might not be right for everyone, but gaining better work-life balance is something we can all work towards. Donna shares her tips on how to create boundaries and rediscover your sense of self-worth…

Step 1: Remind yourself that you always have options. Some of these options may be more favourable to you than others but invariably there are things we can do in any situation. It may be that you’d like to start looking for another job or perhaps you could have a conversation with your boss about delegating some work duties. Either way, telling yourself you do have options takes off a huge amount of mental pressure.

Step 2: Think about your ideal scenario. I’ve often spoken to clients who would love to work one day a week less and are thinking of leaving their current job to find something that allows that, when they’ve actually never asked their current employer if that would be an option! Think through what you would like and then talk to your employer about it.

Step 3: Be clear on your working hours. And then communicate these with your boss and your team. Often the extra work you’re doing is a result of bad habits or because you’re trying to prove yourself. Decide what hours you’re going to work then stick to them wherever possible.

Step 4: Manage your diary. It’s time to get ruthless with your time. Remember, you don’t have to be in meetings backto- back all week – look at what you can decline, delegate or shorten. It’s also healthy to have some gaps in your diary during normal hours to catch up on admin, complete actions, return calls or work on your growth. Book that in and make it non-negotiable.

Step 5: Prioritise self-care. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s sensible. So, make sure your personal appointments, exercise, health checks and more are all in your diary and that you’re not always squeezing things in out of work hours. Don’t forget to schedule your holidays too, and give yourself time away from work to recharge.

Meet the writer
Claire Munnings
Senior content editor

Wellness journalist Claire has more than 14 years of experience in the women’s consumer magazine industry and is passionate about sharing easy-to-implement health advice that can really make a difference. Claire enjoys exploring what it means to have... Discover more

Show your inbox some love

Get a weekly digest of Health & Wellbeing emailed direct to you.

Next up

Access everything, free!

Unlock the website for exclusive member-only content – all free, all the time. What are you waiting for? Join My Health & Wellbeing today!

Join the club today
Already a member? Log in to not see this again
Join My H&W