Dad-Time as Employee Benefit

by Mike Hunter


While much has been written and studied about women striving to balance career and parenthood, a new survey shows this isn’t just an issue for women — dads are facing challenges, too. According to the new Dads@Work Survey, more than half of working dads (57 percent) feel they don’t spend enough time with their children during the week, and 87 percent want to be more involved with the family’s daily routine. And, just as moms have continued to struggle to balance their work schedules with family demands, so do dads, with only 52 percent feeling their companies do enough to support working parents.

“Two parents working is the new reality for most families these days, with 60 percent of households having no stay-at-home parent and 93 percent of dads working outside of the home,” states Michael Marty, senior vice president and general manager of Care@Work by, which helps companies supporting their working families by building employers customized benefits packages covering child care, back-up care and senior care consulting services. “The lines between work and life are blending, but societal and cultural conventions aren’t changing fast enough to accurately reflect the lives of most families today. Our survey found that dads not only want more day-to-day involvement with their families, but also more support from their employers to make that possible. To compete for the best possible talent, today’s business leader needs to build a company culture that supports both women and men as engaged parents.”

2016 Dads@Work Survey Highlights

Beyond Your Father’s Briefcase: According to the survey, fathers today view their role and priorities differently from how they viewed their father’s priorities when they were growing up. Interestingly, they considered “making their children happy” the same top priority for today’s dads (58 percent) as it was for their fathers (42 percent), but dads of today also prioritize good work/life balance (55 percent) and a healthy lifestyle for their family (47 percent) as what is most important (compared to their own fathers at 22 percent and 21 percent, respectively).

Family First, Then Comes Work: The 40-hour work week is a thing of the past, with a whopping 89 percent of dads surveyed working above that threshold and 30 percent working more than 50 hours a week. And, even though 1 in 3 working fathers spend more than 16 hours during the work week with their children, more than half (57 percent) don’t feel they spend enough time with them.

Support for Parents Isn’t Just about Leave (or Moms): Nearly half of working fathers (48 percent) feel their employers don’t do enough to support working parents, citing lack of child-care assistance (55 percent) and paid parental leave (50 percent). Furthermore, 64 percent of working fathers feel their company/colleagues treat moms and dads differently, offering new moms more leniency (50 percent) and more benefits (43 percent).

“Forward-thinking employers across an array of industries — like Twitter, Ernst & Young, Feeding America, Etsy and many others — recognize this shift. They invest in and strive to support moms and dads equally within their organization, which helps them retain and recruit the best talent. That, in turn, reduces absenteeism and drives overall productivity and corporate performance,” observes Marty.

If You Build It, They Will Come: When employers do offer parental benefits or create a supportive culture for parents, dads engage. Though dad-bias still exists in the workplace, 76 percent of dads did not feel their co-workers/manager discounted their ability to do the job when they took time off after their child was born; however, on the flip side, that means roughly 1 in 4 did feel there was some sort of bias toward them.

Paid Leave Matters: A staggering 95 percent of employed dads feel they should have fully paid paternity leave, with 70 percent feeling they should receive four weeks or more — far more than the current norm of most employers offering no form of paid paternity leave. However, this doesn’t stop dads from taking the time they need and want. Even though only 28 percent of those surveyed reported having fully paid leave, 90 percent of dads took time off after their child was born (60 percent taking one to two weeks).


Not Just For-Fun Time

The Dads@Work Survey from Care@Work surveyed more than 750 parents (320 dads, 450 moms) during the month of May 2016 to uncover the wants and needs of today’s fathers from both parents’ point of view.

The survey found a resounding 87 percent of working fathers would be more involved with their family’s daily routine if their employer offered a more flexible schedule. Almost half want to be involved with every aspect of the day, with the top five activities being general playtime (73 percent), doctor appointments (61 percent), preparing dinner for the family (59 percent), going to/from activities (57 percent), and bedtime routine (54 percent). It’s no surprise that 85 percent feel their partner would be happier if they did participate more — and moms agree (86 percent).


Editor Note:

Society for Human Resources reports in 2015 only 17 percent of employers in the U.S. offer some type of paid paternity leave.

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