HR & Management

Why SMEs need to listen to the needs of working fathers

5 min read

02 October 2018

Offering flexible working options for new fathers means fewer absences and costly recruitment drives for replacements.

Talking Talent, a global coaching consultancy has commissioned a series of findings that asks whether employers are doing enough to support the needs of expectant and working fathers.

In the UK, expectant fathers are entitled to either one or two weeks’ paternity leave depending on if they have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks.

But is that enough to support expectant fathers, and encourage them to see the company in a positive light going forwards?

The research has found that over half of working parents (both male and female) said that having a child directly impacts their career progression compared to their childless colleagues.

So what can they employers do to make the concept of being a working parent attractive? As doing so will ensure employees, who are also parents, work for the company longer, and are happier to do so.

Protect paternal rights and mothers win too

The findings suggest that if working dads get more paternal support, so will mothers, ensuring a balanced child-care system for working parents.

Sharing childcare responsibilities also means that women can continue their career progression. By creating a pro-paternity leave environment in workspaces, employers can do their bit to close the gender pay gap.

Businesses are failing fathers

According to the research, some 57% of working fathers said they found it difficult to get support from their employers about paternity-related matters.

“68% of our respondents expected that the next generation would find it just as hard as them to balance work and parenthood.” – Rebecca Hourston, Talking Talent

When it comes to asking employers for concessions surrounding their fatherly responsibilities, only 14% of men questioned said they had never a request turned down by their bosses.

This means that employers are not seeing men as equally deserving of family-based rights as their female counterparts.

Share the burden, and share professional success

The research also shows that shared parental leave (SPL) could be the answer to parental woes –  both sides of the gender divide.

In the UK, two-thirds (66%) of working parents agreed that SPL can benefit couples by preparing them to share parental responsibilities more equally.

“To send a clear and positive message, employers need to be transparent and proactive in publishing their policies on parental leave.” – Rebecca Hourston, Talking Talent

Over half of parents questioned (some 56%) said they would be keen to share parental leave if their pay and working conditions had met their needs.

Apart from financial issues, working conditions is a key barrier for many expectant fathers that stops them accessing their leave based rights when it comes to starting a family, this is often down to an unsupportive workplace culture.

Over half said that taking SPL would have a negative effect on their career progression, whilst even more, some 53%, said they would worry about peer-based judgment should they take the option.

Toxic culture 

So its back again. The old toxic workplace culture raises its ugly head across all forms of office life, including maternity and paternity leave discussions.

“Employers must demonstrate that the relationship between parenthood and professional success can be mutually beneficial.”

According to the research, some 53% of working parents believe that their businesses do not practice what they preach when it comes to allowing them to take leave prior to a new arrival.

Whilst the rights are there officially, respondents believed that the workplace culture failed to support those who wanted to take leave.

What’s a father to do?

They must take advantage of the legislation. Because the only way a toxic workplace culture can be changed is via the work of pioneers who stake their claims with conviction.

And employers, remember, a happy and fulfilled father is a harder working father, who will be loyal to the company that supports him.