Navigating the Dad experience.
It can be hard enough can’t it, having kids and dealing with the role of Dad at home and then we also need to think about our own identity and what it means to be me. A large part of me is what my professional life looks like. I take great pride in my work and creating projects that others can enjoy and benefit from.
I’ve been reading a lot and having conversations over on the Dads In Business YouTube space with business leaders and professional coaches around all topics relating to the Dad experience and some of those conversations naturally fall on the topic of work and the role that work plays in our life, but more so for this context, the expectations of work for our own happiness and satisfaction.
It’s with this in mind that I asked Ruby – our content editor and contributor, to research and write about the expectations of millennial Dads in the workplace and what perhaps employers can do to support the shift in expectations.
When was a millennial born?
A millennial – or Gen Y – was born between 1979 and 1995.
I am a millennial, born in 1984, and I notice so many of the traits in the diagram below that I can really see with interest how different personalities start to show up in different places in both my personal and professional life. With these distinct changes come challenges and opportunities, some of these are spoken about in more depth in my book Modern Sales Leadership which talks about how four generations can potentially be working together in the same place and some of the risks and changes that brings.
For this context, let’s look at what the expectations are of the millennial Dad in their professional capacity and their expectations in a work setting.
What do millennial Dads want, need and expect from their workplace?
It’s safe to say that the breadwinning, thick skinned cultural stereotypes of dads are shifting, and millennial dads are feeling it. There is a clear gap between the expectations of dads to do more at home and the demands and structures of work life, and it’s a fast-tracked ticket to burn out!
As the expectations of dads in modern day are leaning towards being more present and emotionally available for their families, the need for a change at work becomes greater. Working dads need their voices to be heard.
Despite expectations to be more present, stigma still exists for dads that may be holding them back. Our studies at Dads In Business found that 79% of fathers feel that there is still an existing stereotypical perception of what a man should be and should do in the workplace and at home. It’s important that these outdated perceptions are broken down so that dads can find the right balance in their lives without feeling guilty.
Employers and companies need to review policies around flexible work, paternity leave and move towards building a safer space for dads to talk about their needs. Our studies found 67% of dads in the workplace feel they cannot talk openly about feelings, worries or stress. That’s over half of dads reporting a lack of healthy communication at work, and it needs to change. This barrier of communication can arise from a combination of feeling that change won’t happen, and from deeply engrained stereo types and stigmas around the roles of men and fathers. This is a form of toxic masculinity that encourages dads and men to just ‘power through’ or ‘man up’ when they feel overwhelmed.
Our infographics showed that 44% of dads believe that having young kids at home is a weakness for their position at work. It is a real shame that some dads feel that being a father reduces their chances of success at work. It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be that way.
Distrust in the system makes it harder for dads to come forward and ask for what they need from employers. Fathers cannot carry on working around work, they need employers to get on board with policies that allow them flexibility for work to life balance, so that they have the best chance of being happy dads.
A survey of 2000 dads by DaddiLife found men reported that trying to juggle work and home commitments is having a negative effect on their mental health, with 60% feeling guilty about failing to find the right balance. Further findings were that 60% of dads want more widespread flexible working, half think paternity leave should be improved and a third want more information from their employers about paternity policies.
Millennial dads are searching for a better home to work life balance, and the way that this can be achieved is through flexible work arrangements that consider their needs and open conversations. Employers are recognising that the role of dads is changing over time, with a more active part to play in childcare, meaning that they will need to do more to work around their dad duties. Dads should be encouraged to speak up about their needs for themselves and their families, so if you are struggling, speak with your businesses, and check in with yourself.
Further resources to support the managing of expectations for the millennial working Dad.
Here are some links to ways employers can help dads, and ways dads can approach employers:
How employers can help:
How to submit a flexible working request:
More reading and resources from Dads In Business.
A range of resources here to support you in your journey back to work, to a new working environment or to create your own working culture within your own business.
We met Judith McMinn, business advisor turned entrepreneur who has built teams and worked in leadership at the highest level. A fascinating discussion around teams, collaboration and innovation.
A snippet here that highlights the real predicament between perceived business success and the reality of what can be with Andrew Miller, Business Enjoyment specialist.
How can organisations embrace the concept of positive psychology to create better working environments for busy working Dads with Patricia De Souza.