Growing up, both my father and mother worked. What may have been the exception when I was a kid has become the norm, where most young families are dual-income. Now 35 and married with a five-year-old son and a wife who also works full-time, mine is just such a family.
In our household, a typical workweek requires a significant amount of flexibility to coordinate our son’s drop-off/pickup from school, doctors’ appointments, and after-school activities, just to name a few. While I am fortunate to have an employer that provides a flexible work arrangement that accommodates my hectic schedule, not all working parents are so fortunate. With Father’s Day just around the corner, Congress should support dads and all working parents by passing the Workflex in the 21st Century Act (H.R. 4219).
Besides providing employees flexibility to juggle work and fatherly responsibilities, just as SHRM does for me, the bill is good for employers too. Consider the findings of a survey by Boston College’s Center for Work & Family, The New Dad: The Career-Caregiving Conflict.1 The report found that “conflicted fathers” (those wanting to split caregiving responsibilities 50/50 with their spouse but who also acknowledge that more caregiving falls to their spouse) struggle the most regarding their roles as caregivers, and have significantly lower levels of career satisfaction than either of the other two types of fathers in the study—“Egalitarian” and “Traditional.”
The Workflex in the 21st Century Act would provide “conflicted fathers,” and all working fathers for that fact, access to flexible work arrangement plans that many clearly want but do not have. They include flexible scheduling, telecommuting, compressed workweek, bi-weekly workweek, job sharing or predictable scheduling. These arrangements give working fathers the opportunity to meet their work and family responsibilities while giving employers an engaged employee. A win-win scenario for both employers and employees.
Moreover, with unemployment below 4 percent (the lowest it’s been since 2000), it’s a smart business strategy to implement policies that recognize the challenges facing new working fathers and mothers —especially when they consider that the millennial worker will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce over the next seven-to-10 years.2 The New Dad survey found that millennial working dads value “life satisfaction” significantly more than “career satisfaction.”
As a millennial working father, I can attest that the flexibility I have at SHRM to meet the demands of work and home allows me to be the best employee and father simultaneously without any of the guilt of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. To me, it hinges on culture. If an employer invests in their employees, recognizing that both female and male employees have equal, if not greater, demands at home, employees will repay their organization tenfold with productivity and loyalty.
The New Dad survey found that across all categories of working dads—Egalitarian, Conflicted, Traditional—95 percent agreed that workplace flexibility was important, with 79 percent stating it is very or extremely important.
The Workflex in the 21st Century Act is one step closer for working fathers to have it all and for employers to have all-in employees. Congress should give a nod to working dads like me this Father’s Day and get to work on this important legislation.