Daily Skimm: Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living

2021 was supposed to be better than 2020. Jury’s still out on that one. But this much we know: We’re there for you when it comes to breaking down what happened in the last day, week, month, or even the year. So here’s this year in...Work.
December 29, 2021
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Daily Skimm

2021 was supposed to be better than 2020. Jury’s still out on that one. But this much we know: We’re there for you when it comes to breaking down what happened in the last day, week, month, or even the year. So here’s this year in...Work.

It’s Not a Labor(force) of Love

Vanessa Lovegrove

The Story

Women continue to be pushed out of the workforce.


The pandemic. Cue: The eye rolls and 'we knows.' But job losses for women continued into 2021. Remember: Since Feb 2020, more than 4 million US jobs have been lost. And women make up more than half of those losses. While the 2021 dip wasn't as sharp, it wasn't much better. In September, a record 300,000 women (aged 20+) left the workforce. You can thank the Delta wave's impact and back-to-school season for that. And despite overall job gains in October, women — and especially women of color — are still bearing the brunt of job losses. All of that's resulted in a word we can't wait to never say again: 'shecession.' And there's a lot to it.

Go on.

As women continue to multitask to the point of burnout (more on that below), the issues affecting them have grown. Think… 

The care crisis…The pandemic put a spotlight on an already broken system. And now it's burning the candle at both ends. On one end, parents are having trouble finding reliable and affordable care for kids or family members. Making it difficult for women to search for jobs or stay in the workforce. And on the other, care facilities are suffering from the effects of the pandemic too. Especially with labor shortages. And it's forcing places like daycares and nursing homes to jack up prices, lower enrollments, or even close their doors.

Psst…Our co-founders and co-CEOs spoke to several industry leaders about this issue. Here's what they had to say.

Failing diversity efforts and inequality…The nationwide racial justice protests in 2020 caused companies to increase their focus on diversity initiatives. But over a year later, many women of color aren't seeing the receipts. One example: In November, 91,000 Black women left the labor force. And Black and Hispanic women, who disproportionately work in some of the hardest-hit industries (think: service and hospitality sectors), continue to see high rates of unemployment throughout the year. Meanwhile, a recent study shows that women of color are not getting the support they need at work. They're lacking active allies in the office. And are facing microaggressions in the workplace — which has serious negative effects. Including being twice as likely to feel burnt out. This brings us to...

Workplace burnout…It's growing faster than chi-chi-chi-chia. In 2021, the average American workweek got 10% longer. So it's no surprise that burnout increased 10% for working women this year too. The annual Women in the Workplace study found that 42% of women are "often" or "almost always" feeling burned out. We repeat: almost always. Meanwhile, one in three women said they're considering "downshifting" their careers. And four in 10 say they're ready to update their resumé...or leave the workforce altogether.

What's next?

President Biden aims to pass legislation that could help working moms manage childcare. It includes plans to expand access to preschools, enhance the child tax credit, and drumroll please — create a federal paid family leave policy. The benefits of paid leave not only help employees from a health perspective. But help the overall economy. Think: Happy employees = less turnover in the workforce. Now, lawmakers are negotiating a deal to make it happen. But it's facing heavy pushback over cost concerns. Meanwhile, experts say employers can better retain more women workers by offering flexible work schedules, being transparent, and adjusting policies to better support employees.

What's the good news?

2021 has had its set of challenges. But this year, women in the workplace have shined as strong leaders. They stepped it up when it came to supporting diversity efforts and helping employees manage work-life balance. All of which has led to happier employees. And in June, 41 women broke the record for the most women leading Fortune 500 companies. Oh, and here's something that could reportedly help some women return to work: Anyone five years and older is eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.


As the pandemic has bled into another year, the conversation around women and work has shifted. And the effects of the pandemic continue to expose holes in the US's work culture and care economy. More women picked up the slack for care at their homes and in their offices. And as burnout rates increase, something has got to give.

Redefining the Workplace

Source: theSkimm

In 2021, many workers returned to the office for the first time in more than a year. And others are getting ready to head back in the new year. No matter if or when you go back to your OG desk, the workplace will look a lot different than it did pre-COVID. Including when it comes to...

Working from home…is here to stay. As many businesses started to reopen their office doors this year, they realized: Nearly two years of WFH worked...so why not keep the trend going? And have implemented more flexible policies that give workers the option to do just that, full-time. It’s given employees more of a work-life balance, including for many Skimm’rs. Earlier this year, we polled our audience and found that 65% of millennial women had a better balance when working remotely. Plus, nearly two-thirds of millennial women view remote work as a priority.

Hybrid-work models…aka the best of both worlds. In our polling, we also found that two-thirds of millennial women believe they’re missing career opportunities by not being in the office. And not everyone wants to be forced to work from home (or their bed, or their couch) or commute to work every day. Enter: the hybrid option. Which many workers are into: One study found that 83% of workers prefer the mix-and-match method.

Vaccine mandates...could prevent some workers from coming into the office IRL. Vaccines became widely available throughout the US this year. And as a result, many employers — from small businesses to Big Tech and the federal government — required their workers to get a shot. The goal: keep the office as safe as possible and prevent the spread of COVID-19. But employer vaccine mandates have faced pushback. Some argue that employers and governments are overreaching by imposing them. And that they shouldn’t be forced to do something when it comes to their personal health. There have also been concerns that vaccine mandates in the workplace have led to...

Labor shortages…are disrupting businesses around the country. In recent months, job openings hit a record high — but employers have still struggled to find workers to fill those roles. There are a few reasons for all of this (see: above). And shortages have even given union workers leverage to demand better pay, benefits, and work conditions. Time will tell if we’ll see more shortages in the new year.

Career Tips From Experts

This past year has been a challenging one for women at work. On our career podcast "9 to 5ish," we got the work advice you need, from women who've been there, to help you navigate the tough and not-so-tough work moments. And this year, our guests brought their A-game. Thinking about your big career goals for 2022? Here are three episodes to revisit during your holiday downtime. 

Shawna Thomas, Executive producer, CBS Mornings: Shawna is an executive producer on morning TV. And she got that job by working her way up in the media business. She told us: she’s made herself stand out by leaving "Easter Eggs" on her resume. Think: interesting fun facts, out-of-the-box jobs, or non-traditional hobbies.

Julianna Margulies, actress: You know Julianna from "ER," "The Good Wife," and "The Morning Show." But even though she’s a highly awarded actress, Julianna’s always had a backup plan in case acting, or whatever job she was doing, didn’t work out. Tune in to this ep for her advice on knowing how to start making your backup plan — and how to say "no" to certain jobs. 

Esther Perel, psychotherapist: Esther Perel is the expert on relationships — including workplace dynamics. From tense relationships with coworkers to a boss who won’t quit micromanaging, Esther shared how we can all start to communicate better, build meaningful relationships with our coworkers, and have empathy for each other in the workplace.

Thing to Know


The percentage of women who reported having trouble sleeping at least a few nights a week in a National Sleep Foundation poll. 46% said they have trouble almost every night. Eek. 

If this is hitting close to home, you’ll wanna hit up Beam. Their CBD Dream powder can help you fall asleep faster and live your healthiest life in 2022. In fact, 99% of people surveyed said they got better quality shut-eye after taking it. And since it tastes like a delicious cup of hot cocoa, we just know you’ll love adding it to your bedtime routine. The best part? Skimm’rs can get up to 35% off. New year, more Zzz? Sign us up.

Skimm Faves: The Top Problem-Solving Products of 2021

Photos: Amazon | Design: theSkimm

As the year winds down, we’re looking back on the most popular items Skimm’rs purchased in 2021. And today, we’re shining a spotlight on the things that helped you say ‘buh-bye’ to your small everyday annoyances. From stubborn jars that won’t open to glasses that fog up while you’re wearing a mask, these best-selling problem-solving products have got your back. We’ll take one of each, please.

Psst...check out even more Skimm Faves here. We’re talking clothing, home-org essentials, and lots more.

Best Of 2021

We had a lot going on in 2021. And we're sure you did too. So we made this list, just for you:

For when you're looking for a new podcast (or three)...Listen to our favorite episodes of the year: We've got an ep of "9 to 5ish" with Gayle King, where we spoke to the queen of confidence (and of morning TV) about the importance of knowing your worth. An ep of "Pop Cultured" that covers society's obsession with space travel. And a deep dive on the US's childcare and nursing shortages from "Skimm This." 

For when you've read all our newsletters...Take a peek at some of our best articles. Like the one where we break down the reality of childcare in America without paid family leave. The one where we give you the context behind QAnon and its conspiracy theories. The one where we answer the question of, 'can employers mandate vaccines?' And the one where we explain how to be an ally in the fight against racism. 

For when you're looking for a money tip...Invest. Because women need bigger balances in retirement, but many are behind. And you might not be able to count on a lot from Social Security. Bonus: A well-diversified portfolio — aka a good mix of stocks, bonds, and other investments — could give you a chance to earn more than inflation is taking out of your budget. 

For when you're feeling burned out...Audit your calendar. Keep track of the activities that energize you and the ones that leave you drained. Once you figure out what fuels you, make sure you stagger those throughout your day and treat them as non-negotiable appointments that are vital for your health and wellbeing. Because they are.

For when you can't stop scrolling through TikTok...Try our videos instead. Where Priyanka Chopra shared her cozy quarantine hobby. Vice President Harris sat down to talk US paid family leave. President Obama Skimm’d his book. Matt Damon revealed he’s a Swiftie, while Mindy Kaling told us about her love for Zendaya. Jennifer Hudson deserves all the R-E-S-P-E-C-T, while Ziwe declared the Empire State Building to be “iconic."  Sue Bird shared where she keeps her Olympic medals and Kesha told us her best songs to listen to for any occasion. Emilia Clarke spilled her hot take on biker shorts. And Secretary Buttigieg opened up about parenting. While Dr. Fauci told us if he'd plan a vacation in 2022.

Skimm Picks

Here are today’s recs to help you live a smarter life…

1. How to start the new year right. No matter what “healthy” means to you. This brand’s got tons of organic groceries, supplements, and personal care products. And they’ll deliver ‘em all right to your front door. Here’s 40% off your first purchase.*

2. One way to handle a scary credit card balance. Find it a new home. The Ascent recommends this balance transfer card. Because it doesn’t charge interest for up to 21 months. And there’s no annual fee or late fees. Check it out.*

3. How to make the most of your money. Your remaining FSA money, that is. Because *grabs loudspeaker* if you don’t use it by Dec 31, you’ll likely lose it. Luckily, FSA Store has over 4,000 eligible products. And Skimm’rs get a special offer. Get going.*

4. A better bed. No notes. This brand’s luxury platform bed frame is made with eco-friendly materials. It’s simple to put together (like, five-ish minutes simple) and ships in two to five business days. Major bedroom upgrade, coming right up.*

*PS: This is a sponsored post.


We like to celebrate the wins, big and small. Let us know how your friends, neighbors, coworkers (and yes, even you) are making career moves, checking off goals, or making an impact in the community.

Putting pen to paper...Maggie W (MI). She took several creative writing courses for professional development and finished her certificate in May of 2020. She's since gone on to publish 12 different creative writing pieces, ranging from memoir to fiction and even multiple poems. Read up.

I am woman, I am fearless...Janell K (FL). She just graduated with her MBA from her dream school, the University of Florida, and has passed two of the four CPA exams. All while being pregnant (and giving birth to her beautiful third child), working full time, and being a super mom, wife, and friend. She's the definition of superwoman.

(Some) Birthdays...Faith Gaskins (DC), Tracy Houdmann (CA), Caroline Liu (AZ), Samantha Yi (NY), Beth Hamstra (IN), Katrina Power (TX), Katie Rosenberg (WI), Sydney Carey (MN), Alice Kopunovitz (OH), Rachel Travers (PA), Lauren Allison (VA), Nicolette Logsdon (OH), Erica Swoboda (CA), Christin Hauck (FL), Kristine Rafferty (NJ)

*Paging all members of theSkimm. Reach out here for a chance to be featured.

Skimm More

Design: theSkimm | Photo: Getty Images

We might be saying ‘see ya’ to 2021, but this week on “Pop Cultured,” we look back at which pop culture moments twenty-twenty-won this year. Plus, we talk with Tan France of “Queer Eye” on his top tips for developing personal style (without breaking the bank). Listen now.

And if you’re looking for other smart ways to spend your time...

Skimm’d by Kamini Ramdeen-Chowdhury, Alex Carr, Maria McCallen, Graelyn Brashear and Clem Robineau

Skimm'd something we missed?




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