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When we first experienced lockdowns due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we saw a significant shift in who performed “domestic labour” tasks within families such as household-related chores (e.g. cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc…) and childcare. Traditionally, women spend much more time performing these tasks than men. Although, during lockdowns, we saw a significant increase in men performing household tasks – e.g. 58% increase in childcare. This is not surprising because parents were largely working remotely from home, regardless of gender. Further, the research and our work show that “modern working dads” want to be present and involved as parents and partners

More than two years into the pandemic, organizations are paying more attention to supporting their employees both personally and professionally. Research shows that well-being and safety are the new drivers of workplace success. At ScaleHR, we are working with our clients to tweak their HR strategies to focus on supporting their employees’ overall well-being (check out Gallup’s model for wellbeing; the 5 essential elements). 

Even though mothers are still spending significantly more time on domestic labour tasks than fathers, we know that fathers are spending more time on these tasks than ever before. This means organizations need to support the “whole employee” including support for fathers. ScaleHR founder, Jeff Waldman, is a father of 3 boys and has always gone against traditional statistics and societal norms regarding domestic labour – he has some pretty mad cooking skills (his boys love his shrimp, scallop, parmesan, and vegetable pasta) and takes care of laundry, cleaning, childcare, and more. As an entrepreneur, Jeff has seen many of his male peers who are fathers take on more of the household burden than ever before.

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What are the top things that organizations can do to support fathers? 

  1. Extend the Same Benefits to Fathers as you do to Mothers. In countries like Canada, fathers are eligible to take paternity leave, and more or less, receive the same benefits as mothers do regarding leaves. If your organization offers unique benefits to mothers, do what you can to offer similar to dads. 
  2. Provide Flexibility. Allow fathers to have more control and flexibility over where, when, and how they work. Parents often deal with unplanned situations (e.g. kids getting sick at school) that require their immediate attention. Work flexibility allows parents to resolve these situations easily without carrying added stress and worry from work. They’ll in turn be able to deliver and achieve outcomes with the trust you’ve given.
  3. Lead by Example. A basic principle of change management is leading by example – “practice what you preach”. Those leaders who are parents need to show their employees that working flexibly is encouraged and supported – In addition to full-time work, Jeff also runs a part-time daddy Uber service taking his boys to the movies, job interviews, doctor’s appointments, hockey games, snowboarding, friends houses and more. He blocks time in his schedule and lets his team know they can do the same for their commitments. It takes time for people to adapt to change, and showing the way will go a long way in supporting working dads.
  4. Create a “Dads At Work” Group. Create a Slack channel or Google Space for dads at work where they can share tips, support one another with problems, and feel that they are not alone. 

The topic of working dads needs to be an integral part of modern HR strategies. They make up a significant population of your employees and their wants and needs are changing. Working dads are being more active in domestic labour activities; playing a major role in what is traditionally considered “female-dominated work”. For further reading, please take a look at www.daddilife.com, a collaborative project between Deloitte and Harvard Business Review, and the video below. 

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