A case to revamp the workweek

Flexibility has become a hallmark of many competitive workplaces, and the four-day workweek is gaining popularity among Americans. On a broader scale, such adjustments could impact health equity efforts — specifically by reducing stressors on working mothers, a recent report suggests. 

The idea was proposed in a September report from the Clayton Christensen Institute, a nonprofit research organization. 

Sixty-eight percent of working mothers report parental burnout compared to 42 percent of working fathers, according to the report. The authors suggest that stress placed on mothers could be negatively impacting maternal health outcomes, as a 2022 CDC review found that 84 percent of pregnancy related deaths are preventable. 

Many policy levers that have eased working mothers' burdens elsewhere in the world are not yet viable in the U.S., the report states. For example, universal or subsidized child care is impossible with a shortage of child care workers. And some policies that might work in the short-term — like universal paid parental leave — do not consider that childbearing responsibilities extend long after the postpartum period. 

But individual workplaces can improve working mothers' health and prosperity by implementing some measures of their own, per the report. The authors suggest reducing the length of the workweek from 40 hours to 30 hours and shortening individual workdays to align with school hours. This would ease some concerns over pick-up, drop-off and after-school child care. If possible, a four-day workweek can also reduce burnout and stress, according to a study from the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. 

In addition, the authors recommended employers offer paid family leave and on-site or subsidized child care, even if these policies aren't universally feasible. Active wear company Patagonia offers on-site child care and sees 95 percent of mothers return full-time after maternity leave compared to the national average of 57 percent, according to the report. 

Read more in the full report, here

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars