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Work School Hours with Ellen Joan Nelson

"Dr Ellen Joan Nelson talks about the Great Resignation crisis facing many organisations around the world. She explains how reducing the default work schedule, to align with the school schedule, (without reducing salaries), could address this crisis, as well as improve outcomes for individuals, wider society, and even organisations" (Youtube Video Description)

Dr Ellen Joan Nelson is an expert in Gender, Inclusion & Diversity and is championing a campaign to transform the traditional workplace 9-5 schedule to a model which mirrors school hours.

Her argument, based on her extensive PhD research of over 400 working parents globally, is that the 40-hour workweek is archaic and does not serve the needs of the modern workforce. It also results in two undesirable outcomes for working mothers:

- either working full-time with high childcare costs and a feeling of missing out on any time with their children during the workweek


- working part-time hours/pay with no corresponding reduction in workload, KPIs or responsibilities

This tension has been amplified by the pandemic, leading to the much-reported 'great resignation' of 2021.

Intention to change career or leave their job is highest amongst working parents (64%) and is motivated by two key drivers:

- the desire to work flexibility - both in terms of schedule and location

- employee perception of a lack of understanding and empathy from managers

Dr Nelson's proposed remedy - to shift all workers to a working hours pattern that is output focused and mirrors school hours. She identifies a series of benefits to workers, organisations and society:

- greater productivity in the hours worked (backed by extensive research on the 4-day working week in Iceland, Japan and Spain)

- less worker stress (which is known to impact health and productivity)

- greater equality in relationships as a result of shared work/household load

- greater staff happiness which correlates strongly with job performance

- an opportunity for organisations to recruit and retain the very highest calibre staff

Dr Nelson also identifies the first steps to implementation

- talk to staff; gauge their interest, feedback and ideas

- phasing of implementation; start slow, test, adjust, progress

- move to measure outputs not hours: be clear on what you want staff to achieve in their roles

- think about scheduling: how often do teams needs to be together to work effectively, and plan around these needs


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