What Would Make Working Fathers Happy?

According to a survey, from CareerBuilders.com, in 2007 37% of fathers would quit their jobs if their partner made enough money to support them and 38% would take a pay cut in order to be able to spend more time with their children.  Many fathers feel that their work-life intervenes with the time that they should be spending with their children.  27% of men spend more than 50 hours at work, 8% spend more than 60 hours, 25% spend less than one hour with their kids everyday, and 42% spend less than two hours everyday.

The short answer: Spending time with their kids, according to the Working Dads 2007 survey by CareerBuilder.com:

  • 37% of working dads say they’d leave their jobs if their spouse or partner made enough money to support the family.
  • 38% would take a pay-cut to spend more time with their kids.

The “Father’s Day Survey” is an annual study comprised of men who are employed full-time and have children under the age of 18 living at home.

Not surprisingly, many fathers feel that work is negatively affecting their relationships with their children.

  • 24% of working dads feel work is negatively impacting their relationship with their children.
  • 48% have missed a significant event in their child’s life due to work at least once in the last year, and
  • 18% have missed four or more.

How much time do dads spend on work compared to being with their children?

  • 27% spend more than 50 hours a week on work.
  • 8% spend more than 60 hours.
  • 25% spend less than one hour with their kids each day.
  • 42% spend less than two hours each day.

Results from the latest Working Insights Survey by Adecco USA show that 72% of dads polled cited the ability to work
flexible hours as one of the most appealing benefits of working for a company.

The Monster Intelligence Father’s Day Survey indicates that when searching for a job, 82% of working dads view companies more positively if they offer a flex-time benefit. Furthermore:

  • 68% of fathers would consider being a stay-at-home parent, if money were no object.
  • The workplace benefit that fathers appreciate most is a flexible work schedule (53%), followed by telecommuting (24%), on site child care (12%) and paid paternity leave (10%).

Larry Becker, director of Benefits and HR Policy at Xerox concurs. What working dads want the most is “the ability to flex their time,” he says. Read in BusinessWeek’s Working Parents four stories of fathers who have made Xerox’s work-life programs work for them.

What does all of this data tell me? Several things:

  • Fathers are increasingly embracing company benefits, despite their fears about making use of policies that traditionally have been utilized only by mothers, and in the face of the perceived risks to their careers.
  • Dads are ever more mindful of their desire to balance work with the joy and duties of being a father.
  • Fathers deeply value their families and are finding ways to live lives in support of those values.
  • Fathers are figuring out what makes them happy.

Now it’s time to discover ways to achieve that happiness. And there are fathers who are doing just that, and others who desire to.

Unfortunately these surveys fall short. They don’t ask the questions we all need to know, such as:

  • Have you ever been a stay-at-home father so that your spouse could support the family?
  • Have you taken a pay cut to spend more time with your kids?
  • Have you changed jobs to accommodate your desire to spend more time with your children?
  • Have you ever discussed a a flexible work schedule, telecommuting, on site child care, or paid paternity leave with your boss?

It’s one thing to hope or expect that a company understands how important these things are to you. It’s something entirely different to make your wants, needs, and desires known, and to take action to change your existing situation to create the happiness and fulfillment you seek.

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