As we celebrate Father’s Day, it’s important to consider a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this week: “Working Dad: Hit-or-miss times for striking a balance.” And Ellen Galinsky, a Corporate Voices board member and president of Families and Work Institute makes a key point in the article about how organizations are beginning to view workplace flexibility as not a women-only issue.
Here’s the first few paragraphs from the article:
THE MEDIA ARE filled with stories of moms struggling to balance work and family.
What about dad?
In this era of increased co-parenting, dads are more consumed by the search for an ever-elusive balance of work and family. Yet, as Father’s Day approaches and dads look around their offices, factories and stores, they may not find too much help.
There are changes. Work-life benefits are popping up at some local offices: a kid room, a handbook on building flexible work weeks, even a toy-train table.
“We realize it’s really important to being competitive. More than that we want to have people not feel like work is a sterile environment completely separate from the rest of their lives,” said Richard Law, chief executive of Kirkland-based Allyis, which offers paid paternity leave and other family-friendly benefits.
In developing family-friendly benefits and policies, Allyis doesn’t distinguish between men and women. Why? Partly it’s good business.
The benefits represent as much a business decision as a lifestyle, company CEO Richard Law says, because the perks reduce stress on his staff, limit turnover and help attract top talent.
“We don’t really look at it as fathers separate from mothers,” Law said.
Which gets us to Ellen’s point:
“I think that the real change is among employers who used to think of flexibility for women only. That is just not true any more,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the institute. “There is a real understanding that fathers want to be more involved.”
There are broader dad-centric changes. Over the past decade, men reported getting more time off to spend with their new children, and Galinsky says younger dads are more aggressively pushing for personal time. But, too often dads and moms don’t use those benefits, and there is still a long way to go, Galinsky suggests. In the future, she sees a greater reliance on telecommuting and flex time that works for both employee and employer.
And while the trends are positive, more still needs to be done. As the subhead to the article says: “Despite being more involved with raising kids, dads have a tough time finding family-friendly workplaces.”