Happy Father’s Day! As the father of two amazing sons (Ben who is 7 and Alex who is 4), reading this survey hit home for me. Yes, it is true that I didn’t take paternity leave as they were born and in retrospect, wish I had. I think more and more fathers will begin to think this way and look to their employer to support their desire to spend time with their children and spouse during this amazing part of life. I want to share a video with you all that inspires me often as to the role that a Father can have on a child’s life. Enjoy!
It seems as though work is keeping new dads busy these days. According to CareerBuilder’s annual Father’s Day survey, conducted February 9 to March 2, 2012, 43% of those that became new dads in the past three years said they did not take any paternity leave.
And for those new dads who took some leave, but not the full allotted time off, 47% said they felt pressured by their employer to come back to work early. Further, of those who did take some time off to be with their newborn, 59% were away from the office for one week or less.
Those analyzing the results believe that the stress of the prolonged economic uncertainty is having a significant effect on working fathers’ professional and family life balance. In other words, most feel like they may jeopardize their position or standing with their company if they take too much time away from work.
The survey also reports that more than a third of working dads (36%) say they regularly bring work home with them – up from 27% in 2008. In addition, 33% said they would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant they could have more quality time at home.
And finally, 22% of dads surveyed say their job has negatively affected relationships with their children and 26% said work negatively affected relationships with significant others.
Is all this to be blamed on organizations that don’t appreciate and respect the work/life balance of their working dads? Not all, but most companies lack in this area, especially when it comes to dads.
Sure, it is up to the employee to set some boundaries and hold the line with the boss when special projects and crunch-time morphs into an everyday expectation, or the norm. But with the current economic realities facing many firms, and the pressure to increase production with fewer employees, not many new dads feel like they can take extended time away from the job without fear of losing ground, or losing their position.
Of course we all understand the legalities of Paid Family Leave, but that doesn’t mean new dads are encouraged or supported if they opt for 6 weeks away from the job. From the stigma that goes along with “paternity leave” to the co-worker rumblings about having to “cover” or “make up the work” of the absent new dad, to management’s frustration with just about any employee that takes a personal leave of absence, it becomes clear why men especially, feel like taking time off is a corporate cultural taboo.
Obviously not all organizations lean this way, but in the US we aren’t fans of the idea of personal leave, or sabbaticals – we are a culture that says “get back to work.” And that’s a good thing. But in HR, it is important for us to value the whole person, to invest in people, not just workers.
Think about the next generation of potential new dads in your organization. It is likely they WILL take the time off, as more and more put value on relationships above pay, or even keeping the job they have. Examine whether old-school stigmas are influencing employees to suppress work/life balance concerns, potentially eroding critical engagement and loyalty without you realizing it.
Finally, I’d like to wish all those new dads and old dads alike, a very happy, safe and healthy Fathers’ Day! I think that being a father is the most important job that a man can have and I hope that each of you take time to reflect this weekend, as I certainly will, as to how I can continue to be the best dad in the world to my two amazing sons and truly prepare them for a wickedly awesome life into the future.
Another infusion of knowledge…