From the editor: 2019 has been a momentous year

With new year upon us it’s time to look back at our first year and it’s been a momentous years for working dads


2019 has been a momentous year.

Mainly because it heralded the arrival of

Of course I’m biased and some might say that’s not the most important thing to happen this year. There’s been Brexit shenanigans, a change of PM and a general election, a cricket, football and rugby world cup, China landed on the moon and Taylor Swift’s new album.

But the sort of changes we deal in don’t tend to make the headlines.

It’s about attitudes first. And then come changes in practice.

Millennial dads

For example a landmark study in May looked at the attitude of millennial dads to the world of work. That’s the generation that are already in work and climbing the career ladder. They are the here and now. And a third of them have changed jobs in search of better flexibility. Another third are actively looking for the same thing. (Given the research came out in the first half of the year I hope they’ve found what they are looking for by now. They would if they visited our jobs board!).

In the summer a bill was presented to parliament that would make all jobs advertised by default. The draft legislation was lost in the constitutional toing and froing that marked the last half of the year. But the MP who presented it, Helen Whately, got back in at the election. And it was backed by the forces of nature/Instagram that are Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka. So there’s a pretty good chance it’ll be back in the new year.

And just last month research was published showing that if you do advertise jobs as flexible you’ll attract more candidates. That gives a bigger and better pool of talent to fish in. What sort of recruiter doesn’t want that?

Case studies

And anyone who still needs to be convinced should check out the many case studies on our site. They all talk about how they feel happier and more productive because they’ve been more involved dads. Whether that’s been by taking Shared Parental Leave, extended paternity leave or working flexibly.

One key theme on the down side this year has been trust. It’s clear that employers who drag their feet when it comes to embracing flexible working or increasing paternity leave are worried their employees will work less. In practice the opposite is true. But it begs a question about recruitment practices when companies are hiring people they don’t trust. If someone who works flexibly isn’t getting the job done that’s because they are the wrong person for the job, not because of how they work.

But more firms are adopting progressive policies for working dads. Aviva won our award for dads. I expect O2 and Diageo to be in the mix for next year’s prize.

Most notably was the offer from Standard Life Aberdeen. The Edinburgh based financed firm trumped all comers with a new paternity policy that offers nine months off to dads. Given the length of leave on offer the implications will take a while to work through. But it’ll be fascinating to watch. The first test will be how many men use it.

When I spoke to bosses at Aviva recently they said they were aware of the Standard Life Aberdeen policy. But they don’t feel the need to match it because their own policy has the benefits of being simple and well used. Those have to be the benchmarks for success.

Simple and achievable

So in 2020 that’s what I’ll be looking out for. Not just eye-catching announcements. But ones that are appealing to employees. They need to be simple, and there’s no reason why such arrangements should be anything else. And they need to be flagged up to workers who are encouraged to make use of them.

Resolutions are best when they are simple and achievable. Just like the best policies for working dads.

Let’s hope 2020 is full of hopeful moments making it another momentous year.

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