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The Top 3 Things Working Dads Really Want

A survey of 1,964 dads shows that fathers mostly want the same thing as moms; they’re just more hesitant to ask for it.
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profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
Assistant Editor
Published
June 15, 2022
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Image: Odua Images/Shutterstock

This Father’s Day, get Dad what he really wants—flexibility, more paid time off and no career penalties for being a parent. A survey by Seramount (formerly Working Mother Media) of 1,964 American dads, shows that these are the top three things fathers want from their workplace. While these three requests are aligned with what moms want, the study shows that dads are more hesitant to ask for them. This means dads are less likely to take time off and use family-friendly benefits.

After hearing from dads what they wanted, Seramount also made suggestions on how companies could provide these wish list items. See the stats and key takeaways from the study below.

Flexibility

What dads want: Of all the dads surveyed, 84 percent listed flexibility at work as the number one factor important to meeting the demands of parenting. When asked what their companies can do to help them be successful, 38 percent cited flexibility around when they work, and 37 percent cited flexibility around where they work. Twenty-nine percent said they would like a workplace that “acknowledges family may sometimes come before work.”

How companies could make it happen: Embed flexibility discussions in annual planning and performance management processes. Track usage and access of various flexible work options by gender and race/ethnicity to ensure everyone gets equal access to the opportunity to work where and when they want.

More Paid Time Off

What dads want: Sixty percent of dads and moms find it challenging to balance parenting and career, with 61 percent of dads anticipating needing to take time off work to care for an adult relative or someone else. Sixty-three percent of dads and 65 percent of moms took paid parental leave, but dads averaged 4.8 weeks versus 8.2 weeks for moms.

How companies can make it happen: Implement gender-neutral paid parental leave (12-24 weeks) and paid phase-back time of 4-12 weeks, allowing parents to gradually return to work. To ensure paid time off is working for dads, take satisfaction surveys and monitor the career progression of employee parents who take paid leave to ensure equal access to opportunities.

No Career Penalties for Being a Parent

What dads want: Forty-two percent of all dads surveyed believe that their status as a parent will make it more difficult to advance in their company, and 50 percent said they believe being a leader in their company is incompatible with family life. Overall, 46 percent believe that taking time off for parenting will negatively impact their career.

How companies can make it happen: Engage parents’ employee resource groups to identify and create solutions and options for dads. It’s also important to amplify the success stories of senior male role models who are working dads who use flexible schedules and take advantage of the company’s fully allotted parental leave.

Among all the similarities across the men surveyed, there were some pretty significant differences. For example, when it came to taking paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child, only 54 percent of baby boomers took time off compared to 83 percent of millennials. Despite taking more time off for their little one’s arrival, 55 percent of millennials agreed that taking time off for parenting would hurt their career versus 32 percent of boomers.

While companies have come leaps and bounds when it comes to flexibility post-pandemic, there is still more work to be done for both dad and mom. To learn more about finding work-life balance in the meantime, check out The Bump’s Work & Career page.

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