Crisis Conversations with the Better Life Lab

July 17, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the way we work, live, connect with one another and expect from government, businesses, communities, and each other. Everything is changing so fast, revealing the cracks in the system. Everyday, it seems, we're presented with new signs that the status quo needs more than short-term fixes. We need to boldly reimagine and redesign systems and policies to support equity and work-family justice. That’s why the Better Life Lab is hosting interactive conversations online to create space for people to come together, share stories, make sense of what’s unfolding in this isolating time, and, more importantly, explore what we’re learning in order to create a better future for gender equity, health and how we work, live and care.

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On the fourth season of the Better Life Lab podcast...American Karoshi

In Japan, the word for dying from too much work is called “Karoshi.” In America, over the last several decades, dying or experiencing serious injury on the job has been considered by most people to be an anomaly, the result of a freak accident or confined to notoriously dangerous jobs like mining or law enforcement. However, death and injuries on the job have been on the rise since 2015. And, perhaps more importantly, new research shows that common, work-related stress - like long work hours, work-family conflict, toxic bosses, unemployment and job insecurity - are tied to abnormal weight fluctuations, sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, depression and other illnesses, and even death. The workers most impacted by these stressors tend to be people of color and those with high school educations or less. If left unchecked, these stressors could become even more acute and lead to greater inequality in the future as the nature of work itself transforms.

At a time when burnout rates, white collar overwork, blue collar and contract underwork, and work-related stress and anxiety are alarmingly high, and as the coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty and unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression, the Better Life Lab is launching a podcast series and project to explore what it will take to ensure that the future of work centers, not only shareholder profits, but on the health and wellbeing of workers and their families.

If you have a story to share for the upcoming American Karoshi series, contact us at Be sure to also subscribe to the Lab's newsletter, Your Life, Better, to stay up to date on our work and receive podcast updates.

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Listen to Past Seasons of the Better Life Lab Podcast

Each episode of Better Life Lab podcast revolves around the compelling and relatable story or stories of people and their struggles — and triumphs — around combining work with the rest of life. Host Brigid Schulte weaves together deeply personal conversations and accessible discussions with experts to help us put the stories in context, connect and see that we’re not alone, and provide insight, role models, and inspiration for how to make work and life better.

Season One guests include talks with behavioral economist and bestselling author Dan Ariely, Stanford business professor and author of Dying for a Paycheck Jeff Pfeffer, a bank executive who took summers off as a young mother and still made it to the top, and members of a Washington, DC chapter of Workaholics Anonymous struggling to overcome what they see as an addiction to working all the time.

Season Two features Basecamp co-founder Jason Fried, economist and author of The Overworked American Juliet Schor, the concept of work-work conflict as jobs become more complex and demanding, Merlin Mann, productivity guru and inventor of the Inbox Zero concept, the voices of hourly workers living impossible lives with the unpredictable schedules set by an algorithm, workers in Japan who no longer want to work til they drop, and couples trying to fairly share the load at work and at home.

The podcast is available on itunes, Stitcher, Spotify, PlayerFM, iheartradio, podbean, podbay, radioline, radionet, and Slate.

Related Topics
Family-Supportive Social Policy Redesigning Work Gender Equity