For many years, men have returned to the office after the arrival of a new child with few or no changes to their work life. However, this new generation of working dads are doing more housework and childcare duties than ever before. Fathers today play a huge role in helping build healthy, thriving families and also now must juggle their professional and personal demands. To better understand and consequently support the dads in your organization, take note of the four essential things to know about dads at work:
Dads want to “do it all”
Half of fathers say it’s somewhat or very difficult to balance work and family, showing that dads also struggle with the often elusive work-life balance. (By comparison, 56% of mothers say the same.) While jobs are important, it’s not uncommon to find dads today tackling carpool duty, staying home when kids are sick, or rocking a baby back to sleep in the middle of the night. Parenting is more of a “team sport” than ever before, and employers can and should recognize dads’ drive to excel in both spheres. As an employer, you can embrace your dads’ hope to “do it all” by celebrating your employees’ kids. It’s sometimes easy to overlook support for fathers when maternity benefits focus largely on supporting your organization’s moms. Relatively simple gestures such as sending home gifts for a newborn or hosting a “take your child to work” days can go a long way in terms of helping dads create a synergy between home life and work life.
Dads feel the financial pressure
Although more women are becoming breadwinners, men still outearn their wives in about 75% of dual-income marriages. Men also place a greater priority on having a high-paying job than women do. Despite social unrest around the gender pay gap, it’s important for employers to understand the significant pressure men still feel to provide financially for their family. While this pressure can be a powerful professional motivator for some men, for others it can be counterproductive. For example, the drive to earn can make dads (and especially new dads) wary of asking for any exceptions or flexibility to help them accommodate demands at home. As an employer, you can be sensitive to this pressure by reminding dads and dads-to-be how exactly compensation packages, raises and/or bonuses are structured in an effort to assuage anxieties about how having a family might compromise earning potential. Additionally, be very clear with your paternity leave policy and/or vacation and personal day options. By allowing your soon-to-be dads time and flexibility to create a plan ahead of time, as a team with HR, you’ll be giving them peace of mind when they are bonding with their newest family member.
Dads need a community
The experience of fatherhood in the new millennium is unique; it’s hard to understand unless you’ve lived it. Pop culture has some entertaining takes on the “dad” perspective, highlighting the value of a fatherhood community. Recent books like Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis, who also wrote Moneyball, and Good Talk, Dad co-written by Bill Geist and Willie Geist, both esteemed TV news personalities, chronicle the wild ride of juggling fatherhood, work, and marriage—with just enough humor to keep their audience smiling.
Similarly, the ABC TV sitcom Black-ish, narrated by the often-bumbling-but-well-intentioned patriarch of the family, is a perfect example of how frenetic a working dad’s effort to “do it all” can be. The Podfathers is a weekly podcast from Barstool Sports that delves into “the good, the bad, and the ugly of fatherhood,” and focuses on offering an authentic perspective on the joy and strife of being a dad in 2017. Laughs play an integral role in each of these examples, to be sure, but the broader takeaway is, perhaps, that dads need one another to keep a good sense of humor about their hectic and unpredictable lives.
Despite stereotypes to the contrary, men do, in fact, have feelings. Dads, of course, are prone to worry about their kids but can worry about their partners, as well. Whether a dad is leaving his wife at home full-time with a colicky baby, or a dad’s work responsibilities mean he has to rely on his also-working spouse to assume early morning and evening responsibilities for their adolescent kids, today’s fathers see co-parenting as a vital piece of their lives. Nurturing and acknowledging these feelings is a significant step toward embracing the working dad of the new millennium and helping working dads be successful at home and at work. The expectation that moms will handle all child-related care or emergencies is slowly shifting; be a workplace that supports this shift by providing flexibility for your working parents, both moms and dads included.
Being a working dad in the millennial generation isn’t easy. It’s essential to recognize the tremendous effort these dads invest at the office and at home, and offer them the support and resources they need.
Learn more about supporting both your moms and dads in the workplace.
This post was written by Ovia Health’s contributing author, Emily Madden.