For Employers: Fathers at work

For Employers: Fathers at work

Keeping on top of stretched workloads whilst sharing hands-on parenting responsibilities requires skillful juggling at the best of times. How do fathers in demanding City roles manage this? Does working culture help or hinder? What support are they looking for from their employers, and how are firms helping fathers to successfully combine both work and family commitments?

What fathers are asking for:  

From our annual member survey, we know that accessing a more flexible working arrangement is a top priority for many working fathers.  In response to our question ‘what is the one thing your employer could do to support you better?’ 41% chose ‘allow more flexible working, including home working’.  Encouragingly, 50% of fathers in our survey said they currently have some form of flexible working – including part-time, flexible location and full time with flexible hours – however another 21% would like to work flexibly, but haven’t asked. 

With the rise in flexible working however, more fathers are voicing concerns over the potential impact of their working pattern on their expected career progression.  31% of fathers say they fear their career path is less achievable as a direct result of working flexibly, and 27% say they would welcome more effort from their employers into supporting their progression within the organisation.

When it comes to work life balance, unsurprisingly fathers report less positively than male professionals without children.  Only 31% of fathers rate their work life balance as ‘good’ or ‘ideal’, compared to 67% of men without children.  Fathers are keen for relevant workplace policies and resources to be signposted more proactively to them, and to see partners and directors demonstrating clearly what is/is not acceptable behaviour with regards to work life balance.

What employers are doing:

Firms across the City are investing in their family-friendly policies and benefits, promoting working culture that supports all parents and carers – not just mothers - and finding creative ways of letting parent and carer employees know about these.  Many offer flexible and agile working practices, unpaid leave allowances, back-up childcare provision and extra days off for emergency childcare reasons.  And this is being noticed – 56% of fathers report that their employer offers inclusive, flexible workplace policies whilst 66% say they believe the work culture in their organisation is becoming more supportive towards employees.

A number of employers are actively encouraging fathers to take up Shared Parental Leave and addressing concerns by ‘enhancing’ statutory Shared Parental Pay and offering more flexibility in how and when the leave can be taken.  Fathers returning from Shared Parental Leave are increasingly being asked to share their experiences with colleagues; one working father in the City, Matt, tells us here  how he recently benefitted from his employer’s Shared Parental Leave policy.

Senior leaders are talking openly about how they manage their own work life balance, as part of an effort to highlight more varied and visible role models in different parts of the organisation and at different levels of seniority.  Andrea Orcel, CEO of UBS Investment Bank, tells us how he manages to preserve time for his family and his own wellbeing here

What more needs to be done?

There is still significant concern, both in the City and more widely in the UK, that there is a risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’ where men are discouraged from playing a full parenting role due to a lack of support at work, or where men are choosing to take less demanding, lower paid roles in order to better accommodate their parenting priorities.  Our charity partner Working Families explains more here about recent research and current policy initiatives underway that are aimed at improving the deal for working fathers.

In the meantime, what steps can employers take right now?  Drawing on feedback from our Cityfathers members and our knowledge of working policies and practices across the City, we recommend that employers:

  1. Find out, via a targeted survey, what current and prospective fathers think about combining fatherhood with a career in their organisation, the support currently offered and what more they would like to know or access
  2. Start the dialogue early with employees who starting out in their career, via panel discussions with parent employees or informal networking sessions with a family-friendly agenda
  3. Offer varied sources of support, from workshops for new fathers to signposting useful sites and resources that fathers can browse in their own time
  4. Assess the extent to which ever-increasing workloads arising from leaner staffing models may be undermining the messages being promoted by well-intentioned workplace policies.  Do roles need to be reconfigured and projects reviewed in order to give people a more realistic chance of fulfilling their responsibilities at work without making unsustainable sacrifices in their home lives?
  5. Make sure day-to-day conversations back up the formal policies – find out whether managers are encouraging team members to express their work preferences and making it ‘seem more normal’ to be working flexible hours or from home, for example.

Looking for ideas or advice?

Here at Cityparents we’ve worked with City employers to help them with a number of these steps, from conducting targeted surveys, speaking at in-house events and on panels, and arranging guest speakers or seminars delivered by parenting and career experts. If you’d like some input to your plans to support fathers in your organisation, please drop us a line and we’ll be happy to talk with you.

Released On 31st Mar 2017

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