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5 Things You Need to Know About Dads at Work

Patrick Ball on June 13, 2016 07:59 AM

Long gone are the days when it was safe to assume that while dad is at work all day, mom is staying home with the kids. Yet many of our societal and workplace conventions still do.

You already know how important it is to support working moms. You’ve read the thinkpieces postulating (correctly) that family-friendly policies like paid maternity leave and child care assistance are key to recruiting and retaining female talent. And this, of course, bolsters gender diversity initiatives and drives the bottom line.

But what about the other parents? What about dads?

Reality is that the vast majority of dads – 93 percent – work outside the home. Moms aren’t the only ones struggling with work-life integration, and they’re not the only ones who are expecting for more work-family support from their employers.

“For too long, we’ve discussed work-family integration as a woman’s issue,” says Scott Behson, PhD, professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide. “The fact is the vast majority of fathers care very much about their careers and are also putting in the work to be hands-on, highly involved dads.”

We worked with Scott on a survey to find out what today's dads want and need. Here are five of the biggest takeaways from our Dads@Work survey.

  1. They Want to Be More Involved at Home
    It’s not news that dads want to be more involved in their family’s daily routine. But when a whopping 87 percent say they’d be more involved in the routine stuff if their employer was more flexible, then it’s time to start paying attention. And not just the fun stuff, either. About half of dads want to be involved in all aspects of their family’s day – to that end, four of the top five daily activities fit squarely on any parent’s to-do list.

    • General playtime (73 percent)
    • Doctor’s appointments (61 percent)
    • Cooking family dinner (59 percent)
    • Chauffeuring kids to and from activities (57 percent)
    • Being present for the bedtime routine (54 percent)

  2. And They’re Struggling with Work-Life Balance
    Being more involved in household responsibilities than generations past doesn’t mean modern dads are doing less. Eighty-nine percent of dads surveyed reported working more than 40 hours a week, and 30 percent log more than 50. At the same time about a third of working dads spend 16-plus hours with their children each day. Yet more than half of dads don’t feel like they spend enough time with their kiddos.

  3. So They’re Hungry for Work-Family Support from Their Employers
    Nearly half of working dads admitted they’re looking for their employers to do more to support working parents. The dads we surveyed cited lack of child care assistance (55 percent) and paid parental leave (50 percent) as key areas where their companies could do more. A staggering 95 percent of working dads said they should have fully paid paternity leave, with the majority indicating they’d want four weeks or more. Although only 28 percent of the dads we surveyed actually had access to paid paternity leave, 90 percent said they found a way to take time off when their kids were born.

    Now, when companies do offer family care benefits and create a culture supportive of working parents, dads engage without fear of retribution. More than 75 percent of dads said they didn’t feel like they were penalized for taking time off when their child was born. On balance, most dads felt they were perceived as being engaged fathers and supportive of their family. When they are able to leave work early to attend or participate in their children’s extracurricular activities, 90 percent of dads said they’re up-front about the reason without fear of negative repercussions.

  4. But Still Feel Like Moms are Getting More Support
    There’s been quite a bit of progress over the past few years inching Americans ever closer to the realization that, yes, dads are parents too. We’ve seen it in advertising, media and even in the workplace, with the gender-neutral parental leave policies announced by Twitter and Etsy serving as a few recent examples. That said, the bulk of dads – 64 percent – still feel like their company and colleagues treat working moms and dads differently. Half of respondents reported their company is more lenient toward working moms, while 43 percent said their employer offers more benefits for moms than dads.

  5. Phil Dunphy’s Their Dude
    In the pop culture portion of our survey, we asked dads who their ideal role model would be. You might be surprised at who they picked. (They were asked to pick two.)

    • Phil Dunphy (62%)
    • Their own father (54%)
    • David Beckham (36%)
    • Mark Zuckerberg (32%)
    • Mike Brady (17%)

    That’s right, Phil Dunphy. And what, you ask, makes the “Modern Family” character the portrait of modern dad-dom? It’s simple: For all of his laughable faults, Phil is a working dad who does his best to support his wife, Claire, as she re-starts her career as a working mom.

To tie the results of our survey into one theme, it’s clear to see the working dad of 2016 does more than earn a paycheck – he’s an engaged parent rising to the challenge of sharing household responsibilities more equally than past generations.

The forward-thinking company is going to recognize this, and begin to see fathers the way they see themselves. Those that don’t will run the risk of pushing away an incredibly important segment of the talent pool – working dads are a demographic competitive enterprises can ill afford to lose.


Find out how Care@Work can help today's dads at work: 


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