by Huong Nguyen-Yap, SEARAC Board Secretary
I often think about how lucky I am to be at a workplace that centers and promotes the wellness of its team. This has been especially critical as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Shortly after California began sheltering in place, the Women’s Foundation California, guided by our feminist principles and values, adapted our practices and policies to support the team so we can, in turn, support our community partners. One of these policies is the four-day, 32-hour work week.
As a parent, I’m juggling multiple calendars and needs. Fridays off meant I could take care of appointments or run errands that had previously been done over the weekend or not done at all. It meant that weekends could be spent playing and resting. Over time I began carving out time on Fridays for myself to dive into books, tend to my garden, or enjoy other hobbies that I picked up along the way during the pandemic. There are days where I simply rest and don’t feel pressure to get things done.
We live in a society that values productivity over anything else and self-care is the responsibility of the individual, which makes this time especially sacred. The Foundation didn’t just encourage us to practice self-care, they implemented policies that allowed us to practice it.
Over time I began carving out time on Fridays for myself to dive into books, tend to my garden, or enjoy other hobbies that I picked up along the way during the pandemic. There are days where I simply rested and didn’t feel pressure to get things done.
So when SEARAC’s Executive Director, Quyên Đinh, was returning from her parental leave in early 2021, I offered to sit down with her to talk through organizational shifts to support her return – and ultimately support the team. At that point, the Foundation was one year into our four-day work week, and, while there are challenges, the benefits far outweigh any of them. It increased productivity, creativity, strengthened our organizational culture, and brought us more joy.
I met with Quyên and eventually SEARAC’s full management team to answer their questions and provide resources for implementing a four-day work week. While there were initially fears around time management and workload, ultimately, I think we all need to be told that it’s important and okay to slow down. These changes signal to staff that the organization values everyone as people outside of their work.
As I write this, I’m about three months into a six-month parental leave with our second child. There is little time for rest these days, between caring for a newborn and managing the calendar of a kindergartener. It’ll only get busier this summer as I return to work in July. Though life with children is unpredictable, I feel a sense of calm returning to a workplace that promotes work/life balance and wellness.
To learn more about the policies and practices of Women’s Foundation California, check out this Medium post from Women’s Foundation California CEO Surina Khan.
To learn more about SEARAC’s Board of Directors, visit our website.
For more blogs in our #WorkplaceWellness series, see: