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June 14, 2019
Today’s Fathers Are Redefining What It Means To Be A Working Dad
Alex Csedrik

This Father’s Day, we should honor the holiday as well as the evolution of dads. Because as society changes, fathers are also changing how they view their jobs and familial responsibilities.

Gone are the days of the sitcom dad, the guy who drags himself through the front door and hightails right to his favorite chair to watch a ball game.

Today’s working dad is much different. And if companies want to get the most out of these employees, they need to understand what working dads today care about.

Working Dads Now Expect To Be More Involved Parents

Today’s fathers want to be involved parents, which means being active in their children’s lives. A majority of Millennial dads—74 percent—indicate they want to spend more time with their children, per the Boston College Center for Work & Family.

And this concern doesn’t just change the way they work, it’s reformed their identity. Today’s dads are just as likely as moms—57 percent of fathers compared to 58 percent of mothers—to say that parenting is an extremely important part of their identity, claims the Pew Research Organization. This ideological shift comes with benefits, as 54 percent of dads believe that parenting is rewarding all the time.

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This has had a positive ripple effect. Now fathers are more involved in daily concerns of parenting like childcare and housework than they previously were. In 1965, fathers spent 2.5 hours per week on childcare and 4 hours per week on housework. Today, they’re contributing more than three times that amount on childcare and almost three times the weekly hours on housework.

working dads

One Concern Remains

Unfortunately, one concern remains: the father’s responsibility to monetarily provide for his family. While perception on this issue has changed, overall, 41 percent of Americans still believe it’s extremely important for dads to provide income for their children.

There are also other societal contributors to this issue. While mothers take a median of 11 weeks off from work, fathers only take a median of one week off when a new child is born. A large part of this is current parental leave policies. Because the state with the most generous paternal leave is New York, and the New York Paid Family Leave benefit only offers 10 weeks at 55 percent of a father’s weekly wage. Plus, according to Forbes, 86 percent of men don’t take advantage of paternal leave.

Working fathers are affected long-term by missing out on this invaluable bonding time early in a child’s life. They learn how to better care for their child, and it becomes habit-forming. A Columbia University study claims that fathers who take two or more weeks for paternal leave are significantly more involved in childcare. These fathers are more active in their child’s lives after the child turns nine-months old than other fathers who didn’t take paternal leave.  

How Companies Can Help

Companies need to rethink their paternity leave policy if they want to help working dads. If organizations destigmatize paternity leave, then it helps alleviate gender workplace issues. Mothers will be able to more fully engage in their career, and it degenders parental leave. Look to Scandinavia for proof: Sweden found that for every month of paternity leave a father takes, the mother’s salary could increase by nearly 7 percent!

This will also help allay the child salary swing. Currently, men are rewarded with a 6 percent average salary increase when they have a child. Women, on the other hand, incur the motherhood penalty, and lose 4 percent of their salary when they give birth.  

Apart from its effect on pay, addressing this disparity also helps with employee retention. Today’s working fathers are very willing—69 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review—to change jobs if it means being more involved in the early stages of a child’s life. That’s 3 percent higher than working moms.

So, just remember that to keep working dads, you need to understand and address this group’s needs.

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