The fathers of today want to do more than just bring home the bacon. They want to play a more active role in raising their families. However, they’re finding it tough to juggle work and family commitments.
Like working mothers, they too need support.
Fathers interviewed in a study by the Institute of Policy Studies hope for more support from employers and co-workers, allowing them to play more active roles at home. This echoes the growing voice in recent years asking for the needs of working fathers to be addressed.
Speaking to Workipedia by MyCareersFuture, Bryan Tan, CEO, of Centre for Fathering (CFF), DADs for Life and MUMs for Life, shares: “In general, workplaces are more understanding and provide more support towards mothers compared to fathers because mothers are often perceived to be the family’s primary caregiver even when they hold full-time roles in organisations.”
Bryan also added that prevailing perceptions of gender roles play a big part in shaping the view of employers towards fathers in the workplace. He shares: “Fathers who want to become more involved with their families may be viewed negatively and marked down by employers and companies, as this contravenes the traditional role of men being breadwinners for the family.”
Thankfully, change is on the horizon, and there are shifts observed in the workplace for fathers.
More companies supporting fathers in the workplace
As Singapore has seen a rise in dual-income couples in the last decade, prevailing traditional gender roles may need to give way to modern Singaporean society. As child caregiving becomes a shared responsibility for married couples, there is a need for fathers to be better supported in the workplace.
According to Bryan, more companies have included the initiative of supporting fathers as part of their best practices. To encourage more employers to jump on the father-friendly bandwagon, the CFF gives out the Great Companies for Dads awards to outstanding companies with policies and procedures that support fathers and help them thrive at home as they do at the workplace.
He said: “As the importance of a father’s role is recognised by society, we have noticed that more organisations are offering better support to fathers. This is exemplified in the annual Great Companies for Dads Awards that was inaugurated by President Halimah Yacob at Centre for Fathering’s 20th Anniversary celebrations in 2021.”
From a business perspective, a dad-friendly workplace is a win-win situation for both employers and employees. A workplace that cultivates a supportive work environment creates a more trusting relationship between both parties and ultimately contributes to better productivity.
“Companies that play an active role in supporting fathers (and mothers) at work stand to benefit from high productivity, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and increased job satisfaction.”
In a competitive job market, one great benefit of helping fathers manage their work and personal commitments is that it helps companies with employee retention. On this subject, City Developments Limited’s (CDL) Group Chief Human Resources Lilian Tan, shares with Workipedia by MyCareersFuture: “Having policies that encourage fathers to play a bigger role in their families allows them to have greater control over their life and work responsibilities, hence increasing morale and job satisfaction. It also helps us to retain our experienced staff who are valued for their significant contributions.”
How can companies support fathers in the workplace?
According to Bryan, supporting fathers in the workplace does not necessarily mean drastic work policy changes. He added that even companies with little resources can support fathers to balance work and family caregiving responsibilities. This can be initiated by having open conversations to find a mutually satisfying solution, such as making flexible work arrangements available.
At the same time, Bryan also suggests integrating pro-father policies as part of a company’s work culture. He shares: “Organising father-child bonding activities in the work calendar and participating in Eat with Your Family days once every quarter goes a long way to making employees happy.”
For companies such as Partior and CDL that have received awards from CFF, supporting fathers means going all out to ensure that their employees are able to focus on family commitments without having to worry about neglecting work commitments.
Partior: Establishing a supportive work culture
On top of offering a range of flexible working arrangement options, which include staggered working hours, telecommuting, flexible lunch hours, and various paternity leave schemes, the company recently launched a family-focused Employee Resource Group (ERG). ERG offers a community and support source for fellow parents.
Sharing how the company determines what kind of benefits to extend to fathers at the workplace, Joanna shares:
“Sometimes, all it takes is recognition from employers of the challenges that come with being a parent, and this is what drives many of the benefits we have in place for our fathers.”
City Developments Limited: Going beyond supporting family commitment
CDL, being a strong corporate supporter towards NS and Total Defence, CDL has attained numerous accolades in Total Defence Awards over the years. The company has introduced several NS-friendly policies to enable our NSmen, who are also fathers, to fulfil NS duties at the highest priority.
NSmen will be rewarded with the Company matching dollar-for-dollar for their IPPT incentive when they pass their IPPT and commendation for NS promotion. Male employees who go for In-Camp Training (ICT) or pass their IPPT will be granted off days at the end of their training to spend time with their families.
On paternity leave, to proactively support fathers at the workplace, CDL is ahead of national initiatives whereby the company’s male employees enjoy four weeks of Paternity Leave from 2020. CDL also constantly reviews the company’s offering of perks and benefits for parents. Lilian shares:
“With regular engagement, employee feedback, and constantly looking beyond the basics to differentiate ourselves from competitors, we review our benefits to respond effectively to evolving needs.”
Need advice on establishing parent-friendly policies for your company?
If you’re looking to enhance your company’s policies or learn more about the Great Companies for Dads Award, reach out to the Centre for Fathering, DADs for Life and MUMs for Life here.