This toolkit aims to help workplaces survey and assess their current work-life balance strategies and whether these cater to the needs of fathers within their organisations.
Enabling fathers to better balance their family and work commitments can improve an organisation's ability to recruit and retain skilled people, and help build a loyal and productive workforce.
Eighty per cent of fathers who responded to the EEO Trust survey said they would like to spend more time with their families, especially their children.
Working fathers' patterns of parenting are often different from those of working mothers and many workplace work-life policies do not meet their needs. Fathers are more likely to be involved in specific events such as sports at schools rather than more continuous care such as taking time off work to care for sick children.
The EEO Trust survey found that fathers and their fathering responsibilities are diverse. These differences impact on fathers' experience of work and the use of workplace work-life policies.
Many workplace situations or conditions can negatively impact on some fathers' ability to balance their work and family lives.
Long hours, shift work, lack of flexibility of hours, compulsory overtime, fixed start and finish times, unpredictable hours.
Frequent travel away from home, distance and travel time to and from work.
Lack of flexibility to work from home occasionally
The intrusion of technology into home time (cellphones, laptops etc)
Workplaces that have a positive work culture allow fathers to be involved in their family's responsibilities and celebrations. Workplaces that do not role model effective work-life balance and do not encourage employees to use work-life initiatives, impact on fathers' abilities to support their work and family commitments. Many fathers have a perception that using work-life initiatives could damage their career prospects and that balancing work and family is seen as a mother's issue. They also believe that part-time work is not an option as it takes time off career tracks.
Fathers seem less aware of the work-life options available to them at work. They fear losing their job or being seen as not "committed" if they take up work-life provisions. Many believe that it is easier for mothers to take advantage of work-life initiatives.
Poor work-life balance affects workplaces, employees and their families. It contributes to lower productivity and increased staff turnover.
The research found that changes could be made in four workplace domains to assist men to be the sort of fathers they want to be.
To ensure employees who are fathers feel supported at work, the first step is to find out what they need and if your current work-life initiatives are helping them at work and at home. This section includes ideas on finding out what the situation is for fathers in your workplace.
It is important to communicate clearly with your employees from the start of the research procedure to ensure they (men and women) know what you are doing and why.
You may decide to use the questionnaire or the checklist tool below to research your organisation. Your decision on which resource tool to use may be influenced by the size of your organisation or work team, the gender breakdown of employees, the ways you normally communicate with your staff and if you already use a staff survey tool.
This survey method may be appropriate where the organisation or work unit is large, confidentiality is important, employees are not comfortable with face to face discussions, or where written literacy is reasonably high.
The questionnaire is designed in modules and you may not need to use them all. You may want to adapt the questions or add others. You are likely to want to change the language to suit your workplace and to choose electronic or hard copy distribution to best suit your organisation.
If you already use climate survey or exit questionnaires, you may want to consider adding some of these questions to your existing process.
This research method may be appropriate where the organisation or work unit is small, communication is generally less formal, people prefer to talk rather than write, and there are clear opinion leaders in the organisation.
You can adapt these checklists to use in:
The prompts under the topics are designed to assist the discussion. They are suggestions only. You may need to change the language to suit your organisation.