National | Burn Out

A four-day work week so kaimahi Māori don't burn out

Jarrod Haar of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Māhuta, an AUT Business School professor, rose to international recognition in 2018 for his research into the benefits of a four-day workweek.

He has spent the majority of his 19-year academic career accumulating and processing data in order to discover and explain the challenges, opportunities and specific issues that kaimahi Māori face.

Te Ao tracked him down to discover if his study has altered in the last two years as a result of Covid and more individuals working from home.

“It has a lot of popularity around working, doing your five days' work, within a four day period - and that's just for eight hour days, not for 10 hour days,” he says.

“There is that a lot of different organisations that are picking up the four-day workweek. Sadly, though, there are far fewer here in Aotearoa, a lot in England for example, Ireland, Canada, the US. There's a big trial going on in the US.”

Lockdown and working from home has changed our work habits. Professor Haar's current research is primarily focused on Māori burnout.

His research aims to alter our working habits.

“So I've been doing quite a bit on Māori burnout. Unfortunately, Māori are more likely to be burnt out compared to the rest of the New Zealand workforce, which is obviously a detrimental thing.”

“These days when we're at home, you're sitting there and I just watch more emails come in. I'll just answer them, before you know it you've done another hour or two after dinner. And, of course, the whānau is going 'where's mum, where's dad? I don't see them much.'”

“And I think that's how we get those 40 hours a week becomes 50 hours, becomes 55 or more. And that's those long hours that are really dangerous."

Professor Haar envisions that Māori will suffer significantly.

“I think one thing we'll find is we will start dropping right, we'll start burning out. And when you burn out, … [there's] more pressure on the whānau, and I guess kind of the ripple effects will spread out across whānau, across communities, across iwi, hapū.”

Instead of AUT giving Professor Haar a four day work week, he was instead awarded the AUT University medal for his research.

“It's very humbling. We obviously don't do this kind of mahi for the rewards like that. But, you know, just for that recognition comes along, it's very humbling.”

Professor Haar hopes Māori organisations will consider taking on his research.