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

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Nicole M. Coomber

University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business

A recent analysis reveals that the state with the best work-life balance is New York.

The pandemic has led to a shift in how much time and energy people want to commit to work, along with an increased focus on work-life balance.

For my latest research project, my co-authors and I interviewed working moms about their experiences during COVID. What we found: After an initial hustle that saw people committing extra time to ensure their organization succeeded, people started to realize the increased workload wasn’t going away.

We interviewed women in spring and summer 2021, right when that weariness started to set in. They told us the situation forced a reassessment. What is truly important? What values do they want their lives to reflect? You can only run at top speed for so long.

Nicole M. Coomber is the assistant dean of Alumni and Corporate Engagement at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The 2022 Women in the Workplace report from and McKinsey & Co. bolsters our findings. Women — who disproportionately shoulder childcare and responsibilities at home — are leaving their companies at the highest rate in years. Many are switching jobs for new, better opportunities.

But some are considering downshifting or leaving the workforce altogether. According to the report, in the past year, 29% of women and 22% of men have thought about reducing their hours, taking a less demanding job or leaving the workforce altogether.

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