There is some very exciting new conversation starting to happen regarding workplace flexibility.
Only this time the focus is on fathers.
It’s no surprise that this is getting more attention. Studies have been showing an increase in the amount of time fathers are spending with their children–tripling since 1965. Changes in the workforce demographics showcased a need for this national dialogue such as the The White House Conference on Working Fathers which was held recently (June 9th) in Washington, D.C. Fathers are fighting a stigma (just like working mothers have been in recent years) as they seek ways to use workplace flexibility to help them balance work and home life.
The stigma concerns the perception that fathers who are looking for this flexibility (in everything from increased paternity leave and reduced work schedules to workplace parenting workshops) are not putting the company first. Setting boundaries (such as leaving work at a reasonable time to make it home for dinner) might be perceived as a lack of commitment to their work goals or performance, rather than what it really is — leadership, and a father’s commitment to loving his family.
According to a study by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, fathers are beginning to assert their needs and “see themselves as responsible for both the emotional and financial needs of their children.” According to this Wall Street Journal article, employers (such as Ford and American Express) are starting to respond to this trend by offering workplace policies which promote flexibility. But as Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute says here in Huffington Post, there’s a lot of work to be done, and eliminating this stigma needs to be a collaboration between business and what public policy demands.
Wise and progressive business leaders will pay attention to understanding the diverse needs of their employees by offering workplace flexibility. This is because studies have shown (see this study, summary on page 2) that workforce flexibility makes for happier employees who are energized, engaged, less stressed, and show loyalty to their employers.
In my book The Shared-Meal Revolution, I offer that “The idea of approaching a supervisor about work-life balance may seem intimidating, but if you don’t do it, who will?”
The truth is to make work and family live peacefully coexist, and preserve family time in activities such as a daily shared-meal ritual, families have to work together. No one can or should go it alone!
Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing fathers who are working towards the goal of being present and active in the well-being of their family.