We have been busy talking to dads and discussing their experiences of working and parenting life through lockdown. Are there positives to come out of this pandemic. What are the lessons learned? What are dads’ experiences of flexible working?
Meet Simon Gregory Managing Partner at GPS Return
I normally explain to people what I do by saying “I run a recruitment business that specialises in helping parents return to work”. What follows is usually an engaging discussion about how, where, what etc. Then that person introduces me to another by saying “he helps mums go back to work”. I’m sure I said “parents”, what happened to the dads?
Dads Face Different Challenges
At GPS Return we work with professionals returning to work, regardless of the circumstances. 95% of them are parents and 95% of them are mums. However, we are seeing more dads reach out to us looking to return to work. But, the challenges they face are quite different.
David Took 12 Months Out To Be A Full Time Parent
A simple example of this is David, an experienced senior sales manager who took 12 months out to be a full-time parent. On his return to work, as a lot of people do, he reached out to an ex-boss… “I see your balls have grown back then”. Needless to say, David didn’t go back to work for that particular boss. Sadly the perception that it is the dad’s job to ‘bring home the bacon’ and the mum’s job to look after the children persist.
Sadly, the fear of being ridiculed for putting family first is stopping many Dads from asking for flexibility. But not Charles. We worked with Charles who, whilst still working, was trying to find a job that offered flexibility so he could be more present at home. He had put in a flexible work request. The result was he could leave work an hour earlier on a Friday. Even though a female colleague in a similar role was allowed to reduce her hours and work some of those hours from home.
Charles Was Told To ‘Grow A Thick Skin’
What made it worse was that every Friday when Charles left the office early he was met with ‘banter’. “Taking another half-day are you?” and “Have a good weekend, Thumbprint!”. It became so normal that even the Intern had a go. But because Charles was Charles his manager said he should ‘grow a thicker skin’. His HR said ‘it’s just banter so ignore it’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying dads find it harder than mums. But, we do face different challenges that are often hard to cope with. When things get tough, men are expected to man up and deal with it.
But, as the workplace has been forced to evolve with more people working flexibly, there is now a wider understanding. This understanding comes from both businesses and individuals, of the benefits that it can bring to business and home life. Companies are reassessing whether they need large offices and whether people need to be in the office every day. Staff are wondering if they can cope with a full-time job whilst the kids are on school holidays.
Deeper than that though, people we’re speaking to are re-thinking home and work. Rather than having one parent working 60hrs per week and one full-time parent, why not have both parents working a combination of reduced hours and remote working. This way both can develop a career and spend quality time with the family?
David and Charles both found opportunities. This time with organisations that valued their skills and experience and offered them the flexibility they were looking for. In other words, organisations that enabled them to be both the parent and the professionals they wanted to be.
Read more stories of dad’s in lockdown here;