What’s downshifting your career – and is it right for you?

Nicole M. Coover

University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Management

The pandemic has changed the amount of time and energy people spend at work, raising concerns about work-life balance.

In my latest research project, my co-authors and I interviewed working mothers about their experiences during COVID. What we found: After the initial ruckus of seeing people put in extra hours to ensure the success of their organizations, people began to realize that the increased workload didn’t go away.

When I interviewed women in the spring and summer of 2021, that was just when the fatigue started to set in. What really matters? What values ​​do they want their lives to reflect? They can only run at top speed for a long time.

Nicole M. Coomber is Associate Dean of Alumni and Corporate Engagement at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

The 2022 Women’s Workplace Report by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co. supports our findings. Women who shoulder disproportionate childcare and household responsibilities are leaving the workforce at the highest rate in years. Many people are changing jobs for new and better opportunities.

However, some are contemplating downshifting or even retiring entirely. According to the report, last year, 29% of women and 22% of men have considered working fewer hours, taking a less demanding job, or quitting their jobs altogether.

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