Categories
Flexible Working Parenting Shared Parental Leave

Supporting Men in the Workplace upon Return to Work

As Governments of the United Kingdom cautiously signal a slow easing of lockdown restrictions, employees are going to trickle back into the workplace. They may not return five days a week, but return they will. This begs the question: What steps are employers taking to welcome back men into the workplace?


That may sound like a sexist question, but it isn’t. Allow me to explain why:


Many employers are used to welcoming female staff back to work after a prolonged period of maternity leave. Employers often have Keeping In Touch days and other initiatives for women, but not men. Added to this, in most households it is mum who balances work while doing most of the childcare. The past year has been very different. Fathers have been around to help with getting the kids ready in the morning, with remote learning and been much more involved with family life.


This has resulted in a big shift in mentality for lots of men. Far from being sexist, what we’ll hopefully see is men taking on more of the childcare and domestic burden at home. Thereby freeing women up to concentrate on work and their careers. The question is, are employers ready for this monumental change in working culture?


Men’s domestic roles have changed


I asked Ian Dinwiddy for his opinion. Ian operates Inspiring Dads, a coaching service for men in the workplace who struggle balancing work and family life. I asked how he thought employers should prepare for welcoming dads back to the workplace:


“For many people, the return to the workplace will be fraught with tension, potential ongoing concerns about personal safety, and the ‘simple’ emotional challenges of change.


“To support men, it is vital to take the time for an individual assessment of needs, both from a mental health perspective and work life ‘balance’ perspective. Many men will have fundamentally changed their domestic role, especially dads caring for children, and altered their expectations of the trade-offs they are prepared to accept.”


As you can see, Ian confirmed what I’d been thinking: Many men will have reassessed their role in the home. Ian also issued the following warning:


“Any failure to recognise and carefully support men are likely to store up well-being, performance, and talent retention issues for businesses everywhere.”


What the employer organisations say


With Ian’s words ringing in my ears, I approached the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). I asked what advice it was giving employers about welcoming back men into the workplace. I was directed to this article on the FSB website.


Credit where it’s due, the article addresses Ian’s concern that employees might be concerned about the risks posed by returning to the workplace. It also mentioned childcare and the possibility of furloughing staff for longer if necessary so they can deal with children. That said, the FSB didn’t offer any specific advice for supporting dads (or mums) when they return to work.

My next stop was the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The CBI had a dedicated Coronavirus Hub on its website with some great resources. There were ideas and case studies to help employers support staff mental health and support staff working from home. There was mention of the stresses faced by “working parents” but nothing about easing working dads back into the workplace.


Having looked at a couple of employer organisations, I approached an employer directly. Zurich is a company with a reputation for being a very forward-thinking organisation with a good approach to gender equality. I made enquiries about how it was preparing for staff to return and if it had identified any issues where men in the workplace might need some additional support.

The insurer hasn’t yet firmed up its plans. It is still “considering how to welcome staff back to the workplace” so it’s unclear at this stage what support will be available.

How to support men returning to the workplace

All things considered, I felt more than a little underwhelmed with how UK employers are preparing to welcome men back into the workplace.
With no one else providing tips for helping male employees back in to the office, I’ve put together a few suggestions:

  1. Be mindful of the fact men are less likely to acknowledge and admit they are having difficulties re-adjusting to office life. Have regular catch-ups. Ask how they are doing and make sure they are familiar with any workplace counselling services or mental health support that is on offer.
  2. Why not introduce Keeping In Touch days for all employees before they return to the office? There is no reason why these can’t run virtually.
  3. Look at the diversity training undertaken by your management team. Do they undertake training to better understand the stresses and strains faced by mums AND dads? A lot of diversity training ignores dads. This is a big oversight. The reality is that many employers are more flexible in their approach to working mothers. After a year of working from home, much of it spent in the company of their children, dads will expect equal treatment. Managers need to be aware of this.
  4. Are you ready and prepared for a surge in requests from male employees who want to formalise flexible working arrangements? They’ve spent a year balancing work with childcare responsibilities and been productive. And employers need to give all such requests serious consideration thinking long and hard before turning them down.
  5. Keep in mind that employees may have other caring responsibilities. They may be looking after an ill or disabled family member or spouse.

Being Aware that Change has taken place

To wrap up, let me make clear that women should receive the same levels of support. But employers need to be aware of how a year of working from home will have impacted and changed the expectations of fathers.

Things have changed a lot for men and employers need to accept this and take appropriate action. If they don’t, men will talk to employers who offer greater understanding and flexibility.

Categories
Business And Careers Flexible Working

CV alternatives: What you need to know

This month I’ve spoken to some specialists to find out what alternatives exist to the CV and what job seekers might need to keep in mind.

The economy and jobs market are at an interesting juncture. We all know COVID-19 has led to huge numbers of redundancies, but with the vaccine roll out going well there are reasons to be hopeful and positive signs the economy will soon grow again.

If you are one of those people who lost their job or are thinking now might be the time to seek a new challenge, you need to be aware of how the recruitment process has changed over recent years. The good old curriculum vitae or CV used to be the standard tool for all job seekers. To stand out these days, you may need to do something a bit different. 

Let’s take a look at what the experts said.

The Hardcore CV Dodger

Charlotte Nichols is the managing director of PR and Marketing agency Harvey and Hugo. Wanting potential recruits to get creative and demonstrate their skills and talents, she started a campaign called #HarveySaysNoCVs. While few recruiters go to quite these lengths, it shows that recruiters are taking a different approach to the old “sift and interview” way of doing things. Nichols said her favourite CV alternatives were: 

1. Website 

2. Video

3. Animation 

Automated Tracking Systems (ATS)

Have you ever applied for a job online? Odds are the recruiter has used an ATS system. Essentially, this part of the recruitment system is automated. According to Matthew Hunter, Industrial Director at MET Recruitment, an ATS can be set up to look for certain key words, employer names, years of service in particular roles and educational background.  

Do you feel uncomfortable reading that? You aren’t alone. As Hunter says: “ATS Application Forms take the personal touch of out of recruitment.”

There are also common pitfalls people make, such as assuming details about education aren’t important. Hunter advises that if the application involves an application via ATS, you should: “Read up on the role read up on the role thoroughly and almost write your application with one eye on ensuring all answers are pointing towards what the system is looking for.”

Don’t Forget Social Media

A further suggestion put forward by Hunter is to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and dynamic. A lot of recruiters spend time on LinkedIn looking for candidates so keep this in mind when posting to the platform. Think about how you present yourself to the world. A surprising number of people use profile pictures that wouldn’t look out of place on a dating website (…and that’s never a good look).

LinkedIn may be quite an obvious choice of social media platform, but how about Clubhouse? The audio-only social media platform is looking to recruit a senior executive and is using a novel approach to recruit them.

Applicants have to send an email to People and Culture Director Jenny Battenhall, explaining why they’re correct for the role. If applicants make it through to the next round, they will undertake an interview with Clubhouse’s Chief Executive Officer Drew Benvie in a closed room on the platform.  

Interviews on Clubhouse are unlikely to be mainstream any time soon. Even so, Battenhall pointed out that COVID-19 has made video interviews very popular. She said candidates should be prepared for this and ensure all the necessary tech works properly. 

Personal Website

Hardcore CV dodger Charlotte Nichols wasn’t the only person I spoke to who mentioned personal websites as being important. It seems this is becoming a much more common way to get your name out there. 

Deepak Shukla is founder of Resumé Cats. Interestingly this is a CV design service, but Shukla has had to move with the times. 

He said: “Personal landing pages are an excellent way of showcasing your work portfolio, previous employer or client testimonials and writing proficiency. They should be designed with search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind, enabling potential employers to find you organically through Google searches.”

What of the CV?

As you can see, the CV isn’t quite as central to the recruitment process as it once was. Nonetheless, some feel it still has a place. 

Employment Solutions recruits candidates in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Chris Taylor, Technical Team Leader, had the following advice for anyone putting a CV together: 

“Remember that a CV should just be a snapshot of your experience to date. Before we send a candidate’s CV for a potential role, we tend to remove a lot of the personal information that has been supplied. Keep it simple, all you need is your name, contact details and overview of relevant experience.”

Chris Taylor, Technical Team Leader

Creativity is Key

As you can see, there are many alternatives to the CV. It seems a good place to start is to create a personal website and to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and fresh

Whatever else you do, be it a video, an animation, an ATS application or even if you have to apply for a role using a CV, creativity will be key. Employers need people to demonstrate their relevant experience clearly and in a way that’s original. 

To finish off, why don’t you tell DaddyJobs.co.uk if you think the traditional CV is dead? Its parent company Find Your Flex is asking people for their opinions and to explore the role of unconscious bias and alternative CV’s in recruiting. It’s a really simply survey and you can take part by following this link and have your voice heard. 

Want to take a look at what Flexible Working might look like for 2021? Click through to read some interesting predications.

Categories
Flexible Working

Why flexible working for grandparents is essential

When my kids started school, there was a group of people I didn’t expect to see in the playground on the school run: Grandparents. Some granddads and grandmothers collected children every day.

It quickly became clear there was a huge army of working parents relying on grandparents to look after little ones. It also came as a bit of a surprise to see this, possibly because of my own circumstances. My wife and I live hundreds of miles away from our families, so we’ve never been able to rely on grandparents for day-to-day support.

That said, there’s one grandad in our extended family who looks after his grandchildren a great deal. He’s retired and in his seventies but very proud of what he does. It’s always a delight to talk to him and hear what he’s been getting up to with his grandsons.

Support for grandparents in the workplace 

Do grandfathers and grandmothers get the support, help or recognition they deserve? To be honest, the picture seems to be a bit messy. 

Here are a few facts. According to the Usdaw Union, there are 14 million grandparents in the UK, half of whom are under the age of 65 so it’s reasonable to assume around 7million of these individuals are still working. Half of all kids under the age of five spend some time being looked after by grandparents. And 2.2million grandparents look after grandchildren to allow mum and dad to work.

Many of these grandparents are what’s known as ‘sandwich carers’. Us parents may think we’ve got it tough with young children, but sandwich carers are looking after two generations. They’re usually looking after their own parents, while also providing childcare for grandchildren and holding down a day job. 

We often think of parents needing flexible working. As the statistics I’ve quoted above show, the older generations are under just as much pressure than their younger counterparts and in the case of sandwich carers, they’re arguably under even more pressure. 

Do we do enough to recognise the immense contribution grandparents make both as employees and as caregivers? I would say their efforts often go unnoticed and unrecognised and employment law doesn’t always make things easy for them.

Flexible working for grandparents, but it’s not all good news

The good news is that grandparents have the right to request flexible working, just like anyone else. Beyond this, things get a bit difficult for any grandfather or grandmother providing care, especially if its for grandchildren.

Employees generally have the legal right to “time off for dependants” if there is an emergency. The catch is that dependants usually have to live with you. 

Unpaid parental leave is another possibility. The catch? You must have legal parental responsibility for any child you are looking after. Yet this won’t apply to the majority of grandparents. 

The impact of COVID-19 on working parents and grandparents

I have somehow got to this point without mentioning the impact of COVID-19. Various campaigns have sprung up recently calling for parents to have the right to be furloughed because they have childcare responsibilities.

Part of the problem is that some grandparents are having to shield or are simply too nervous about catching COVID to look after grandchildren. It’s creating a childcare crisis and some employers are losing staff as a result. 

Hopefully this is just a temporary blip and we’ll return to the ‘new normal’ once the vaccine has been rolled out. When we do return to normal (whatever that normal is) flexible working has to be a the centre of it to enable employers to recruit and retain the best talent and enable parents and grandparents to keep working if that’s their wish.

Older workers have a lot to offer

If we want to make it easy for employers to recruit and retain the best talent, we have to make flexible working available and acceptable for all employees. This includes grandparents who may have all manner of caring responsibilities. Such as looking after grandchildren while mum and dad work.

We also need to recognise that older workers have a lot to offer employees. One of the most compelling arguments I heard for encouraging older men to stay in the workplace is that they have benefitted from a working culture that excluded women. As they reach the end of their working lives, these men make great mentors for women and have lots of knowledge to pass on to younger women who lack female role models and are starting out on their careers. If we don’t make it easy for these older men to stay in the workplace, that knowledge will be lost and no one will benefit from it.

These grandparents deserve our recognition and our support. They’re doing many of us younger workers a huge favour. Employers may be doing their bit by allowing flexible working for grandparents who are caregivers, but it’s a shame employment law hasn’t caught up.

You can check here to see what the predicted changes are for flexible working for 2021: Flexible Working: Predictions For 2021

Or if you are a someone who is looking for a new job with flexible working hours, you can search our jobs board to find the right fit for you: https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/

Categories
Flexible Working Parenting

The Pressures Felt By Working Dads

The subject of my first blog post of 2021 is very timely. I had planned to write something about the pressures felt by working dads. As COVID-19 yet again closes schools and the workforce is ordered to work from home, those pressures will be plain for all to see in households across the country.

The reason I wanted to write this post is that I regularly see working parents in the media discussing the pressures they feel. Nines times out of then those parents are mums. Tens times out of ten, the discussion focuses on the pressures faced by parents with very young children. If there’s one community that is consistently overlooked, it’s dads like myself. Dads with children in the middle years of childhood.

What pressures do working dads face?

With that point made, what pressures do dads face? Ultimately, the pressures felt by working dads come from two sources: Their employer and their family. I shall first look at the pressures employers often unwittingly place on male staff. 

Unconscious bias is a huge problem. Managers frequently pressure men to put work before family. Why? Well, they’re men and childcare is women’s work innit? I know of one woman, a well known academic as it happens, whose husband was once asked “Why the **** can’t your missus do it?” When he made clear to his boss that he had to undertake a routine childcare task. 

I’ll give a further example. The University of Birmingham and University of Kent recently did a research project into working practices during the pandemic. It found that managers contacted male employees working at home twice as much as female ones. Their seemed to be an understanding that women might be busy with kids. Whereas men would be 100% available to their employer at all times.   

Attitudes like this fail to appreciate that most households are dual income. They also fail to appreciate that men have responsibilities away from the workplace. Striking a good work / life balance is made all the tougher when your employer doesn’t want to acknowledge your life away from work.

Pressures from the family

When a man becomes a dad or a child is born, he will often take some shared parental leave. The arrival of a newborn is an exciting time, but it does also come with some stress. Sleep and feeding patterns have to be established. If a couple already have children, their needs must be attended to also. 

In my experience, employers are generally quite good at acknowledging these stresses. That won’t be every man’s experience, but it is mine. 

As kids get older, dads can have real issues because they are pressured not to get involved with their children so they can focus on work. If you have school-aged children, just take a moment to think about the last Nativity play you attended or sports day your child participated in. (I know you may have to think back to the pre-COVID era!). 

How many dads were there? I’ll wager there were some, but not nearly as many as mums. 

I know some dads genuinely struggle to get the time off work because of the nature of their employment, but many simply don’t see such events as in their ‘fatherly job description.’ This is partly because employers don’t always make it easy for men to do these things. 

Men also feel pressured by the culture of presenteeism. Hopefully COVID-19 will spell the end of this phenomena, but men’s working hours actually increase when they become dads. It’s long been thought this is because men feel pressured to provide for their families and the one way you can do that is to work, work, work. 

If a child falls ill and gets sent home from school, dads find themselves under pressure. This is something I have personal experience of. I once received an email from my boss asking me to do everything I could to make sure I didn’t have to leave the office to look after my child in future. 

Flexible working is the answer

If I were a working mum reading this post, I may well be saying: “I face all these challenges too.” 

It’s important to recognise that working mums do indeed have to deal with these issues. The big difference? Flexible working is much more acceptable for women. Managers often receive training about the pressures mums face, but not the pressures working dads face. 

Flexible working can do so much to unleash the talent of both female and male workers. The good thing is that change is afoot. Younger men are demanding the right to work flexibly so they can better balance work and family. The stats released by Find Your Flex that I published in last month’s blog post show a surge of men looking for flexible job roles. 

I just hope this is a change we see continuing. Long term it will benefit everyone: Dads, mums, children and also employers. 

Categories
Flexible Working

Flexible Working: Predictions For 2021

Since March of this year, we’ve seen a seismic shift in working culture courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexible and remote working have become the norm for many employers and employees. But what does 2021 hold for the future of flexible working? Here are our predictions for 2021.

Many jobs can be done on a flexible basis, that has been proven. Many mums and dads have benefitted from this. Without time spent commuting and with the help of Microsoft teams or Zoom, parents and carers have been around more for their children. 

Ian Dinwiddy, Inspiring Dads

Ian Dinwiddy is a man who knows a thing or two about the changes to working culture. He runs Inspiring Dads, a coaching service for men who want a better work life balance. Asked about the future of flexible working, he said: 

“Covid has exposed the myth that widespread remote and flexible work will be the death of business. There are challenges around wellbeing and connectivity. But, those firms who embrace the new normal will continue attract the best talent and break the paradigm of presenteeism.”

Ian Dinwiddy, Inspiring Dads

As Ian says, it seems hard to believe that we’ll ever go back to the traditional Monday to Friday nine to five job. A COVID-19 vaccine may make it more viable for employees to return to the workplace. However, will we return to pre-COVID-19 work patterns? I spoke to a few experts to find out what they think the future holds for flexible working.

Cheney Hamilton Of Find Your Flex

Where better to start than on your doorstep? I asked Cheney Hamilton, founder and Managing Director of Find Your Flex, DaddyJobs.co.uk’s parent company, what trends she was seeing. Buckle up, because the trends Cheney reports are staggering:

  • Male audience up by 47% in just 30 days
  • Spikes in the 25-34 and 45-45 age groups
  • A whopping 87% of users being ‘new’ as opposed to ‘returning’ visitors in the same period. Which Cheney said: “Shows active/new job seekers are in the ascendancy versus the ‘browsing’ job seekers.” 

Asked about whether more organsiations were advertising roles flexibly, Cheney said:

“We are seeing an increase in ‘non-traditional’ industries entering into the flexible working space. Moving away from White Collar office environments, into Engineering, Healthcare and Retailers.  We are also seeing a marked uptick in diversity and inclusion led flexible working briefs for roll out in 2021.”

Cheney Hamilton, The Find Your Flex Group

Interestingly, Cheney mentioned diversity and inclusion. Some groups, such as those in the disabled community, stand to gain if flexible working becomes the norm. Find Your Flex has been collecting data from users. It does indeed show that users are incredibly diverse. The audience is made up of a range of religious, educational and ethnic backgrounds to name just a few. 

Working Families

Working Families is a charity that promotes flexible working. Catherine Gregory, Head of Marketing and Communications. Asked if home working was likely to become permanent, Catherine said: 

“It’s clear that there’s no going back to business as usual after the massive shift to home working and flexible working precipitated by COVID-19. Employers have realised that many more jobs can be done on a flexible basis than they’d thought before.”

Catherine Gregory, Working Families

She added that productivity hadn’t “taken a hit,” something evidenced by charity’s recent employer member survey. Might we see working from home two or three days a week becoming the norm? 

Catherine said she hoped employers wouldn’t be too prescriptive as some people preferred office working, while others didn’t. 

“The important thing,” Catherine added, “is that employers are looking at outputs as opposed to time spent physically in the office.”

She added that when Working Families surveyed parents about their preferred working patterns, only 1% wanted no flexibility. She made the very important point that flexible working wasn’t simply about home working. It could mean part-time, compressed hours and so on.  

Han-Son Lee, Founder Of The DaddiLife Fatherhood Website

Han-Son said the initial lockdown allowed lots of new flexible working opportunities to emerge. However, whilst this is working well for most parents, he made the important point that maternity discrimination got worse. 

Looking forward, Han-Son believes that having been given a taste of what a flexibly working world could look like, parents will work together. 

“I believe what will start to evolve are ways by which parents can ally with one another. Ways they learn from each other and take the effective steps forward not as individuals but as a group. The world of ‘parenting and flexible working’ is a very different one to ‘non-parents and flexible working. Dads (and mums and carers) need to put strength in numbers behind their need and opportunity around flexible working. This will make for much more sustained change and underline the vast importance of proper flexible working beyond just Covid.”

Hanson Lee, DaddiLife

Some Striking Similarities

Based on what everyone said, some common themes definitely emerged. The culture of presenteeism will be consigned to history as managers focus on outputs and results, for example. 

Second, everyone was in agreement there will be no return to the old ways of working. The change has happened. Huge numbers of people use sites like DaddyJobs.co.uk to both find jobs or advertise roles shows that flexible working is here to stay. 

The challenge will be to ensure all groups, not just parents and carers, have access to flexible roles. It’ll therefore be interesting to see what the new year brings.  

Categories
Flexible Working Parenting

I’m A Dad And I Work Flexibly

Making Changes At Work

I always wanted to be a ‘hands on’ dad. Getting stuck in with feeding, nappy changes, cuddles, development milestones and all of the other things associated with caring for a baby. So, when my daughter was born in 2006, I decided to request a change to my contract to enable me to spend one day per working week with her.

At the time I was working five days per week in a London office in a technology related role; I was not in a position financially to take a reduction in salary, so I went for the ‘compressed hours’ option. By 2007 I was working full time hours across four days rather than five and became a bona fide flexible worker!

Was Changing To Flexible Working A Positive Experience?

On Wednesday’s I would take my daughter (and later my son) to playgroups and the park to feed the ducks while my colleagues toiled away in the office. It was a really positive experience and I have no regrets. However, I did have to endure the occasional jibe about not being available for important meetings and I feel those two years did affect my progression within that team. Once I returned to five-day weeks in 2009, I felt so strongly about this, that I moved to a different department.

The Covid Effect

Fast forward to March 2020, I was still London based, albeit at a different company. I was preparing to start a new job in April 2020. My working pattern was four days in the office and one day ‘working from home’. Which at the time was still considered less productive. Then the COVID-19 enforced lockdown happened, overnight I became a remote worker!

Like most people, the idea of working from home all the time sounded great. I embraced it wholeheartedly – no more crowded trains and expensive sandwiches; however, after a couple of weeks the novelty started to wear off.

Especially when I realised that I was facing the prospect of starting a new job at the height of lockdown in late April 2020!

Starting A New Job During Covid Lockdown

Sure enough, I started my new job and was on boarded remotely without any issues. However, one of my strengths is collaboration and brainstorming. I enjoy conversing with colleagues in both formal and informal settings. None of this was going to be possible for me, at a time when I was trying to establish myself in a new role.

For this reason, my first few months were extremely challenging from a mental health perspective. Especially when home schooling was also factored in.

Tips On How To Thrive As A Remote Worker

However, it is possible to thrive as a remote worker and over time I have managed to adjust successfully. Some tips to enable this included:

  • Developing a routine – including work start and finish times.
  • Taking regular breaks – for comfort and beverages.
  • Doing some exercise – getting outside for at least an hour during the day if possible.
  • Arranging informal catch ups with colleagues during the working day.
  • Discussing any mental health issues with a line manager.

The Future Of Work Beyond Covid

An ideal situation going forward will be a balance of office and home-based work. Local high streets and communities have begun to thrive during the lockdown. I’m hoping that things will change for the better. We’ve proved that it’s not necessary to be in the office all the time to be productive.

A guest blog from Mo Philip.

Disclaimer: This blog represents my personal views and not those of my employer.

Categories
Business And Careers Flexible Working

A Wider Understanding Of Dads And Flexible Working

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.

Workplace Evolution

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;

Dads and the opportunities to come from the pandemic

Categories
Flexible Working

How Dads Can Get More Flexibility At Work?

Requesting Flexible Working

What is a dad to do if his employer does not have a culture that accepts men have families and caring responsibilities outside of the workplace? While times are changing, this is still a major issue. It’s not always an easy one to address because it can involve full-scale cultural change, but I’ve put forward a few ideas that fathers in the workplace may find helpful.

It Starts With The Application Process

Let’s start at the very beginning. Before you even apply for a job, look closely at the job advert. Does it make any mention about flexible working being encouraged? Prior to completing the application form, quiz the recruitment consultant about the company’s family friendly policies or call the HR department and have a quick chat.

Ask if the organsation pays paternity and maternity leave benefits at the same rate. Ask if it has written shared parental leave and paternity leave policies. If the answer to either of these questions is “no” then it’s a big warning sign.

I’ll tell you a story to demonstrate my point. I once went for a job interview and asked what benefits came with the job. I was being sly and testing the culture of the organisation. My eldest daughter was only one year old at the time and I was hoping the manager heading the panel would tell me about childcare vouchers or mention some family-friendly benefit or policy.

Instead he looked at his colleague, turned back to me and said: “You get a salary.”

It was a dreadful, condescending answer. It was immediately clear to me this manager was a dinosaur and that I could expect nothing in terms of balancing work and family. I wasn’t too upset when I didn’t get the job!

Flexible Working And Shared Parental Leave (SPL) Are Your Legal Right.

Do not think your employer is doing you a favour by agreeing to your request for SPL or flexible working. A lot of people, especially men, make this mistake. Remember, SPL is your legal right. Your right to request flexible working is also enshrined in law.

Be polite and put forward a strong business case. Look around your organisation and highlight examples where other people have worked flexibly or taken SPL. If a precedent has been set, it’s hard for your employer to turn you down.

It may also be that you’re merely the first man to ask for SPL or flexible working. You may feel nervous but discover that you’re blazing a trail and knocking at an open door!

Seek Support From Your Trade Union

If you are a trade union member and your workplace recognises your union, speak to your union representative. Managers are usually reluctant to pick fights with unions, especially over issues like SPL or flexible working which have a legal framework behind them.

Approaching things this way also means you are not on your own. You’ll have support from an organisation used to dealing with employee / employer disputes and successfully mediating between them.

Engage With Any Women’s Groups

If you are stuck with a management team that isn’t interested in your flexible working request or is doing all it can to put you off applying for SPL; seek help from any women’s groups within the workplace.

If there isn’t a women’s interest group (they are more common among big employers) try and find someone on the Staff Council or staff consultative body with an interest in issues affecting women in the workplace.

This may not sound like an obvious thing to do, but these groups can be incredibly powerful allies. They are in a strong position to point out to management that failing to provide male employees the same benefits and rights as women has a negative impact on both genders.

I’ll give you an example. I know of a FTSE 100 company that introduced equal paternity leave and pay because its women’s group campaigned for it. The group members recognised it was unfair men didn’t have the same rights and spoke up for their male colleagues. The result was a huge uptake in men taking SPL.

Be Clear About What You Are Requesting

Be clear about what you are requesting. If you are requesting to work from home two days a week, say so. If you plan to take four months SPL starting in March, make that clear. Your employer is much more likely to agree to a clear request as it’s easier form them to plan accordingly.

If you simply request to work flexibly or say you want to take SPL but you’re not sure what date you wish to take it from or for how long for, you can’t be too surprised if the answer comes back as a “no.” After all, how is an employer supposed to plan for such circumstances?

One other piece of advice is be flexible. You might want to work from home two days a week. But, what if your employer looks at your request and offers you three days home working every fortnight? Could you make that work? Be prepared to compromise as both you and your employer have different agendas.

Fathers In The Workplace Toolkit

Finally, if you think your employer might be receptive to the idea, introduce them to the Fathers in the Workplace Toolkit. This free resource is put together by researchers from the University of Birmingham.

It’s aim was to give employers and HR professionals easy-to-implement ideas that could make a workplace more father-friendly. You can read about it yourself – Fathers In The Workplace Toolkit. It suggests every employer should have a Fatherhood Champion. This would be someone who works flexibly and can be consulted about their experiences and explain its importance. It also says workplace parenting groups should be inclusive of fathers and suggests employees with children should have a ‘parenting passport.’ This is a document outlining a staff member’s home situation, shared privately between managers. It will help managers understand the needs of staff as they progress through an organisation.

Be Brave

We’ve all been in the position of asking for something from a boss, knowing the answer might not be the one we want. Employers have years of experience dealing with mums who work flexibly or go on extended leave following the birth of a child.

It’s a relatively new thing for both employers and employees when a man asks for SPL or to work flexibly. The only way it can be normalised is if men ask for SPL or flexi-working. The culture of your organisation may not have caught up with the times. The onus is on us men to bring about that change so be brave and speak to your boss. Oh, one final thing, very best of luck!

Interested in how covid is changing our working culture then you may want to read – Changes To Working Culture During Lockdown

Maybe you’d like to hear more about our DaddyJobs author John Adams.

Categories
Flexible Working

Changes To Working Culture During Lockdown

When Coronavirus hit and lockdown was introduced, I made a prediction. I said there would be numerous academic studies into how it would impact on children, home life and working culture. The impact of the lockdown was the instant introduction of remote working for huge swathes of the workforce combined with homeschooling.

It turns out my prediction was bang on. I know of three academic studies that are already underway.

The academics will come to their own conclusions. I have some of my own thoughts as to how home working over recent months has been different to home working pre COVID-19 and what the long term impact may be.

Homeschooling Has Made It Tough

Let me just get right in there with the most obvious point. No one in their right mind would attempt to homeschool children. Especially primary school children, while also trying to do the day job!

Speaking from my own experience, this has been incredibly tough. After three months of trying to homeschool and work from home, I will freely admit I was totally drained. Natalie Costa, a confidence coach who works with children and founder of PowerThoughts, put it to me very bluntly: “This is not ‘homeschooling’ that we’re doing as that is a choice. At the moment we are trying to manage and survive in a crisis, so be kind to yourself.”

I have worked from home for a few years now. The absence of school and childcare options means that what we’ve experienced over recent months has not been a typical home working experience at all.

Dads Are Doing More Childcare

According to the charity the Fatherhood Institute, it turns out dads are doing lots more childcare. The charity claims the amount of unpaid childcare done by fathers has rocketed up by 58% in just two months. Yes, mums are still doing more than dads, but this is an enormous step in the right direction.

No Commute = More Work Getting Done

I am basing this claim on personal experience, but without the commute, are workers more productive?

I take my wife as an example. She has been home working for months and most days she logs on by half seven in the morning. She’d normally be on a train at that time of day but instead she works. This surely is a positive change to our working culture.

The other huge benefit of this has been environmental. While traffic levels seem to have crept back up, the lack of cars clogging up the roads has been very noticeable, not to mention the lack of aircraft. Have we all got used to using Zoom and Microsoft Teams instead of doing lots of avoidable business travel to meet people face to face? I’d like to think so.

What Will The Future Hold For Our Working Culture?

In addition many of us are dedicating more time to exercise. There is also evidence that people are eating more healthily. But what do I think the long-term impact of lockdown will be?

There is already evidence of this. Both DaddyJobs.co.uk and LinkedIn are seeing more people applying for flexible roles. Crucially, employers are increasingly advertising rules as flexible, so it seems everyone is seeing the benefits.

Remote and flexible working was unthinkable by some employers and considered impossible in some industries. The past few months have proven that’s not the case.

I don’t think we’re going to see the end of office life. But I think it’ll be much more common for people to work from home two or three days a week. Or that the office will become somewhere you visit once a fortnight. What I’m hearing from various people is that they like home working, but they also like the social aspect of the office environment. So I think a mix of the two is highly likely.

Following on from this, flexible working will be much more accepted as the norm for men. A man’s request for flexible working has historically been twice as likely to be rejected as a woman’s. With both genders being forced to work flexibly, I very much hope that mindset has been consigned to history.

With men working remotely, we’ll hopefully also see greater gender equality both at home and within workplaces.

I am hopeful for the future. I think there’s a risk we could slide back to old ways of working, but I very much hope flexible working stays the norm for the majority of employees. A permanent positive change to our working culture is long overdue.

Categories
Flexible Working

Why DaddyJobs.co.uk Has Re-launched At The Right Time

I am so excited to have joined the DaddyJobs.co.uk team. I have a long and personal interest in promoting flexible working and I think the website has re-launched at just the right time. 

Before I get into why I think DaddyJobs.co.uk has re-launched at the perfect time, allow me to introduce myself and explain why I am so interested in flexible working. It’s a long and personal story, but I’ll give you the highlights.

My Flexible Working Story

Way back in 2011 I was your typical, full-time working dad. My wife and I had the one young daughter at the time called Helen (our second daughter, Izzy, arrived a year later).

My employer gave me a certain degree of flexibility, but I didn’t feel I could properly balance work and family. Things came to a head when I was told it had been noticed I had missed a few meetings that had been put in my diary  when I would typically be on the nursery run (either very first thing in the morning or very late in the afternoon).

I worked in a department of 80 people yet I could count the married people on the fingers of one hand and even fewer had children. My face didn’t fit any longer, so I suggested to my wife that I leave full-time work, reduce Helen’s nursery hours and concentrate on looking after our daughter and running the family home. 

When I raised this with Mrs Adams, it didn’t get the warmest reception. We had a huge row in Pizza Express in central Glasgow. After a short while she came round to the idea and we haven’t looked back.

I initially took a part-time job with a local charity a few rungs down the career ladder. When Helen started school, I needed even greater flexibility so even that job became unviable.

This is where my career path, until this point in a terminal, downward spiral, took an interesting turn. For a few years I had been writing a blog called Dadbloguk.com. It followed my journey as a man who ran the household and “held the babies.”

I was now a stay at home dad with no income, but I did have a well-established blog. I wanted to contribute financially to the family and so the natural thing to do was to try and make money from Dadbloguk.com and so that’s what I did.

Fast forward to 2020 and blogging has taken me everywhere from Canada to Australia and I’ve interviewed Hollywood greats including Michael Douglas and Steve Carell. I won Best Dad Blog at the 2019 Online Influence Awards and Dadbloguk sits at No1 on the Vuelio Top UK Daddy Blogger list.

A real highlight happened just a few weeks ago when I was appointed a LinkedIn Changemaker. I am one of seven people LinkedIn has chosen to promote change in the modern workplace. Recognising the issues I had in the past, I am campaigning to make flexible working more widely available to mums, dads and carers.

I don’t tell you any of this to boast, but to make a point. Working for myself is hard, very hard. It would be much easier to have an employer and everything that comes with it: Sick pay, holiday pay, employer pension contributions and so on.

Instead I have withdrawn from the workforce. The skills and experience I have, I am keeping to myself by working for my own company and fitting my work around my family commitments. My skills and experience have not been available to an employer for years because I could not get the flexibility I felt I needed to balance work and family.

Flexible Working Is For Women And Men

The other point I’d make is that I am both a man and Generation X. When most people think of flexible working, they associate it with mums or women with caring responsibilities.

As for being Gen X, I stand out for leaving the workforce. It’s not unheard of for men of my age to leave a job because of a lack of flexibility, but it is rare.  It’s a different picture with younger men. 

Younger guys will think nothing of leaving a job if they can’t balance work and family. According to the DaddiLife Millennial Dad at Work report, a third of Millennial men left their job within a year of becoming a father because it didn’t offer the flexibility they wanted, while a further third were actively looking for a new job.

That is the great thing about DaddyJobs.co.uk. There is increasing demand from men for flexible working. It is meeting the needs of men who actively want to balance work and family life. 

The Impact of COVID-19

I’ve somehow got this far without mentioning the seismic impact of COVID-19!  Over recent months huge numbers of men have been working from home. 

The signs are that flexible, remote working could be here to stay for two reasons. Firstly, many employers simply cannot have all their employees back in the workplace because of social distancing guidelines. Secondly, everyone’s got used to working from home and very few people want to go back to the office full time.

I think DaddyJobs.co.uk has re-launched at just the right time to capitalise on this. Men increasingly want flexible working and COVID-19 has massively shifted a whole chunk of the workforce in that direction. 

In the months to come I look forward to exploring the various issues men face when wanting to work flexibly. I hope to encourage more reluctant men to accept that flexible working is ideal for them and their families. 

Finally and most importantly, I wish you the very best with your job hunt.