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The modern family movement – think dad as well as mum

The modern family movement – think dad as well as mum

Posted on 12/06/2017 by Laura Mayfield

Dad balancing child and work image

We hear a lot in the media about working mums and how tough it can be going back to work after maternity leave; the juggling, the guilt of being at work, the guilt of not being at work, the pressure and stress it can create.

But what we don’t hear a lot about is the impact having children has on Dads.

Although there have been significant changes to how maternity leave can be taken by parents; which is a huge step forward for equality. We do still largely live in a society where the majority of Dads work full time and it’s the mums who take on the lion share of childcare and where possible, are the ones who take on part-time paid employment, if they’re not also working full-time.

Obviously, there are lots of people juggling family life differently to this, and it’s all about finding what works for you and your family, but the full-time working Dad is more common than not.

When we read articles about balancing work and family life in the media, it is often framed as a women’s issue. Historically, employers have allowed women more flexibility when they have children; a few extra hours off at Christmas to attend the school play, flexible working, days off with sick children etc become less frowned upon for the mother. 

But these are attitudes/expectations/inequalities that have to be rethought. And a lot of businesses are doing just that.

“The main thing I found in a previous role, is that my employer expected my family to fit around me and my work. This was mainly driven by stakeholders, either whose partner didn’t work, or they were fairly Victorian in their views of parental responsibilities.

It was expected as the norm that you would stay away, get home late – not be around for plays and you only had children at weekends.

The totally lack of flexibility increased the stress at home, especially when my wife went back to work. This was one of the main reasons I changed jobs. I needed a more forward thinking/modern employer.”

Aaron Buffery, Vanilla Recruitment Senior Accountancy & Finance recruiter.

Supporting the modern family movement:

Today’s Dads are engaged parents rising to the challenge of raising a modern family. They don’t want to miss every play, every assembly, every parents evening.  They want to help with homework and the bedtime routine, they need a work/life balance. And businesses are recognising this in order to recruit and retain this valuable talent pool.

  • 1 in 10 women are stay at home mothers to children under 14
  • 1 in 100 men are stay at home dads to children under 14

This means that on average, 89% of parents are in paid employment. This is a lot of working parents juggling childcare and the workplace. What are you doing to support them? Do you have any specific parental benefits? Are you in a position where you are a parental employer of choice?

The US website Fatherly.com do an annual survey of the 50 best ‘Dad employers’ with businesses employing 1,000+ people. They have found 6 common themes among the best preforming businesses:

  1. Paid leave
  2. Flexible time policies
  3. Childcare benefits
  4. Dependent care
  5. Employee assistance programmes
  6. Parental support programmes

Granted, the companies are all corporate giants, largely in the tech and creative space but it is worth knowing what the corporates are offering to think if any of it could translate to your business.

Some of the stand out offerings from the top 5 businesses are:

  • Netflix – offer total flexible working schedules
  • Esty – ‘gender blind’ parental leave programme
  • American Express – flexible working schedules and employee Caregiver of the Year Awards
  • Spotify – ‘Welcome Back Programme’ for new parents with gradual return hours and Focus on Fatherhood breakfasts with top execs about balancing leadership in the workplace and fatherhood
  • Facebook – New child benefit payment and family planning benefits

For smaller businesses, it all about ensuring that your attitudes and support for working mothers are extended in the same way for working fathers.

If you can provide flexible working so parents can pick their kids up from school every so often when normally they can’t, do it. Encourage your working parents to attend the odd assembly and see their child get a certificate, or go to the annual sports day.

The difference that it will make to your business is negligible in terms of the bottom line, but the impact it will have for that parent and their loyalty to your business, will be huge.

It will also make you a more attractive proposition for new recruits.