When we talk about the need to support working parents, the narrative tends to focus mainly on the needs of women in the workforce. And while it’s true that working moms are stretched thin, it’s important for employers to recognize and support the needs of all parents in the office—including working dads. By offering more support to the men in your office, your company can help alleviate some of the imbalance when it comes to the responsibilities and stress working parents face.
In order to relieve some of the burdens on working dads, it’s time to reevaluate the cultural norms that have been in place at the office for decades. Here are four ways your company can better support the needs of male caregivers.
For working dads, flexibility in the workplace is just as important as it is for moms. However, it’s important to remember that flexibility shouldn’t be viewed as a perk your company offers, but rather a philosophy that you follow. That means trusting your employees to do their jobs on the terms that work best for them.
Consider pivoting to a results-based environment instead of requiring employees to work a set schedule. Your working parents will appreciate the freedom this gives them to fulfill both their family and work commitments, and to be able to prioritize deadlines over specific hours.
If you have team members in multiple time zones, be cognizant when scheduling meetings. For example, try to ensure meetings don’t interfere with dads who need to drop off or pick up their child from school or daycare. If there is no wiggle room in scheduling, re-evaluate if team members with a parenting conflict are essential to the meeting. When possible, allow them to email you an update on current projects instead.
While annual enrollment may be set in stone, try to identify other benefits you can offer that employees can opt in or out of as their needs change. For example, there is a growing demand for self-care benefits.
Child Care Benefits
For many families, finding reliable and affordable child care is a struggle. Nearly 34% of surveyed working families noted that they are facing serious issues getting the care they need for their young kids. This can be a major source of stress and anxiety for working parents. Providing your employees with access to child care benefits through a caregiving marketplace membership, like Care Membership, can help these families find reliable and vetted childcare options.
Another great benefit to offer a working dad (or any caregiver) is Backup Care. This flexible and powerful benefit provides options when an employee’s regular care option falls through. Backup Care provides employer-subsidized care for children, seniors, and pets. Also, according to our own user data, when employees use Backup Care from their employer-sponsored Care benefits, they miss an average of nine fewer work days each year. That’s right, nine.
Care recently surveyed our customers and their employees and found that 87% of employees said they would miss work if they had to care for a loved one and didn’t have access to Backup Care.
We also found employees in every age group reported needing child care services. Here is the breakdown by age and percentage of employees who need child care:
- 18-29: 62%
- 30-39: 96%
- 40-49: 96%
- 50-59: 69%
- 60-69: 22%
Of the employees we surveyed who have access to the Care Specialist benefit, 50% said they spoke to specialists about parenting or child support issues. Clearly access to child care benefits is one of the best ways for companies to support their working dads.
Study after study stresses the importance of paid maternal leave, but paternal leave is also incredibly important. This time off gives fathers a chance to help their partners recover from giving birth and bond with their children. For adoptive fathers, this bonding time is equally as important as they settle into their new family life.
In a recent survey of men who took paternal leave, the consensus among respondents was that it was a positive experience. Nearly 60 percent noted that they found those hours spent on child care to be meaningful. The majority of the men interviewed also mentioned a noticeable improvement in their relationship with their partners, and less mental stress. Overall, parental leave left this group feeling more refreshed, more focused, and with more favorable feelings about their company.
Some working dads did admit to some concerns about the impact of paternal leave on their career. This is why it’s important for employers to make working caregivers feel supported. Reassure parents that their career won’t take a hit because they took time off to bond with their child.
Mental Health Benefits
While men may sometimes be less open about their mental health struggles, that doesn’t mean they don’t experience them. If they are a parent or other caregiver, any mental health challenges may be exacerbated from the stress of also providing care. Parents and caregivers to adults reported mental health struggles at a rate of nearly 70 percent during the pandemic. This number jumped to 85% when caregivers were responsible for both adults and children.
For new parents, these struggles can often be related to postpartum depression. While the condition and challenges are common knowledge when it comes to women, men can also experience symptoms as well, in what is known as paternal postpartum depression. Up to 25% of men have reported postpartum depression in those first few months after a baby is born.
Currently, the US economy loses $1 trillion per year in productivity due to depression and anxiety. Adding mental health support to your roster of benefits can help your employees get the help they need through access to licensed and vetted mental health professionals. For men, this benefit is significant as it breaks down barriers to support. It’s confidential, and can support any of the fathers (or other men) in your office—creating equity and accessibility.
The last couple of years have been tough on working parents. As men balance their work and family lives in a post-pandemic world, they need benefits that are meaningful and impactful for them and their families. In a labor market that is tighter than ever, this kind of support for working fathers can help you both keep the amazing talent you have and attract top employees for open roles.