Research also  shows many fathers are dissatisfied with the amount of time they spend at work and the amount of time they spend with their children. Some 54% of fathers with children under one feel they are not devoting enough time to them, while 42% of fathers feel they are not able to spend enough time with their children. Additionally, 62% of fathers think that, in general, fathers should spend more time caring for their children: fathers are working long hours too, with six out of 10 working more than 40 hours a week.

All this makes the topic of work-life balance for dads a major social significance. Here in the UK family policy emphasises the need for fathers to be more involved with children, in the pre-school and infant years which are crucial in relation to later child development, and especially in relation to families with limited incomes. The economic situation has changed, and labour market participation in the UK among women with pre-school and infant children has risen sharply over the past 30 years since the advent of equal pay acts and anti-discrimination policies. Divorce rates and rates of family breakdown have also risen, meaning that fathers may be less able to rely on mothers to manage the father/child relationship on men’s behalf but must work to establish meaningful father/child relationships on their own behalf. This affects not only divorced and separated fathers, but also men within intact relationships.

Having said all of this, for whatever reasons the facts tell us that men are less likely to access work-life balance policies than woman.

Working Families and Lancaster University Management School are currently researching men’s levels of stress and engagement at work, with a particular interest in men’s participation in family life, and how their working life affects (and is affected by) their efforts to reconcile work and home life. This research indicates that for the fathers surveyed engagement with work is low, and lower than that of other groups of employees than is generally found. It is accompanied by high levels of stress and self-reported physical and mental ill-health. In particular, motivation amongst these fathers is low.

The reasons for this are being sighted as lack of control over work alongside work interfering with home life. Fathers questioned so far also seem less committed to their jobs than would be expected, which is interesting in light of many of the perceptions about workers’ commitment levels and what constitutes an ideal worker (especially in relation to working patterns) which are often dominant in organisations.

Maybe it’s time for organisations to wake up to potential benefits that can be obtained through caring parental policies. This support could take on many forms, but most definitely it would do well to include a new dads workshop giving ‘expectant’ and new dads the recognition and support they need to help them navigate the early stages of being a new dad at work. Our own sessions cover the facts, the practicalities but also helps them identify the values which drive a happier work-life balance.


Bob Bannister

Download a pdf of this blog here.  

imanageperformance.com

Twitter: @bbbannister @iManage

 

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