In recent years, more and more fathers are challenging the traditional role of dads as a ‘secondary’ parent and are taking on a much more active role in their children’s lives at home.
But has the world of work really adapted quickly enough around this shift? In this article, we’ll look at why this matters more than ever before.
Challenging the traditional fatherhood ‘stereotype’
Modern day dads are going through a generational shift when it comes to their parenting. For too long, dads have been thought of in a traditional way – where their day to day parental role is seen as a limited one, and most of their time is spent at work instead.
There are still far too many limited beliefs that dads are just the ones looking for fun times with their children and putting forward powerful hero baby names and other symbols of masculinity.
But a great shift has begun for the past few years, with a recent study by the Families and Work Institute finding that fathers are more likely than mothers to report wanting to reduce their hours or take a less demanding job in order to spend more time with their families. This shift in attitude is indicative of a larger trend, and one that is likely to have a significant impact on the workplace in the years to come.
Dads want to work differently
Our own dads at work survey showed that 2/3 of all dads had requested some form of flexible working since becoming a dad for the first time.
However, the rates of formal acceptance remain shockingly low, and less than half of dads surveyed believed they were treated equally to mothers when it came to being seen as parents at work.
Modern day fathers are looking for ways to work differently in order to better balance their work and family life. This isn’t just a nice to have anymore, with 2/3 of the dads surveyed also having admitted that they either left their jobs after becoming a dad for the first time to find a better work/parental balance, or ‘actively looking.’
A different shape for modern family living
More and more organizations are starting to look at their paternity leave policies as a mark of true gender equality in parental leave. But that is only the start, and increasingly paternity leave will become a hygiene factor rather than a big USP.
There are three things organizations need to do to start to address this area to really stand out as best in class organizations:
- Realize that this doesn’t just impact dads: Yes, starting to address dads at work affects dads, but unlocking a different way of working for dads also impacts his family – his partner and of course the people that really matter – the next generation.
- Get dads to open up: Having the ambition to address dads at work isn’t enough. Dad’s themselves aren’t the best at opening up, and culturally we need to move past the traditional notion of dads being stoic and silent.
- Put dads on the agenda: Dads at work programs aren’t going to have a true impact until they are represented and role modelled at Board Level. Only at that level will it be recognized for the impact it needs to have, and only at that level can it address the tensions culturally that continue to hold so many organizations back when it comes to dads at work.
Wherever you are with your dads at work journey, I hope this post can start a journey for your dads at work and its impact on the organization as a whole.