Supporting New Dads in the Workplace

‘Nearly half of all millennial dads feel burnt out most or all of the time’
Modern Families Index 2016

Recent research concludes that employees who have just become fathers (as well as existing fathers) absolutely need recognition and support for the change they are going through.  Although historically, most working dads may not have had to make the same life-changing decisions that a woman suspending a career to take maternity leave has to, they are still facing one of the biggest changes and increases in responsibility they will ever experience – as well as more modern expectations that they will play a bigger part in their role as a father.

Traditionally, we have only seen workplace support for women during and following maternity.  But if we only offer help and guidance to women to become the ‘work and childcare experts,’ then doesn’t that assume we are expecting them to do both jobs of working and caring for the family, and therefore excluding fathers from this dual role?  This is not a good message if we are aiming to create more diverse, family-friendly workplaces, where we have a healthy mix of men and women, working and parenting.

Some companies, especially those who are actively and openly striving to become more family-friendly to attract talented and diverse staff, put on workshops to support their new and expectant fathers at work – or simply invite ALL parents to their career coaching workshops.  Small groups of new fathers and fathers-to-be meet to discuss issues such as what they can do to support the family; what their childcare options are; and how their new role of ‘working father’ can be managed effectively so a healthier work/parenting balance can eventually be forged.

What can dads learn?

– That their life is changing as they enter fatherhood; not just their partner’s life.  Being a father can and will impact their working lives, so changes do need to be made.
– That society has changed.  More mothers have to work now to help keep the family financially afloat, so dads need to help out with the parenting.
– What they can do to help and support the family – whether it be planning the family finances, ensuring parental entitlements are understood and maximised or doing the nursery or school run.
– That they are now legally entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL).  The mother has to take the first two weeks of maternity leave, after that working couples can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.
– That it’s okay to talk about your family openly at work and take time out to be more involved at home.  In fact, the more open fathers are, the easier it is for mothers to be more open about how they are managing their work/family balance.

What are the benefits for working mums?

– They are no longer expected to manage 100% of the childcare
– They get recognition and help from both their companies and their partners.
– Losing the burden of some of the childcare responsibilities releases time and energy for work and outside interests.

HR may need to be proactive in including dads in all the support they offer to their mums – it is very common for dads not to come forward and ask for help in their role as a working dad – HR Review commented on 7th March:

‘It’s interesting to note that in the dads surveyed, a large proportion seemed too scared to ask for help from their managers.’

Supporting dads makes good business sense.  Organisations are constantly striving for ways to retain their talent: time and flexibility is the new currency.

For more information contact us today.

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