How can SMEs reach out to dads?

Developing a family friendly culture is vital for dads in SMEs, according to a report by Fathers Network Scotland.

Dads Working Homeworking


Fathers Network Scotland has outlined why developing a family friendly culture is vital for SMEs to ensure dads can use flexible working and parental leave policies effectively.

The Perception is reality study by Brynja Rún Benediktsdóttir at the University of Edinburgh Business School sets out to understand how the culture of SMEs (small private organisations with between 50-250 employees) in Scotland impacts on the utilisation of family-friendly policies and what can be done to eliminate any barriers so that more organisations and families can benefit.

It finds three areas which are crucial for dads to take up family-friendly policies: developing a family-friendly culture, ensuring line manager support and tackling perceived bias about flexible working which is often viewed as something only mums do.

Barriers to use of flexible working policies

Another barrier to fathers utilising policies was the feeling of guilt and associated worries about the attitudes of other employees. Having other co-workers who are parents makes dads feel more comfortable, says the report.

It adds that information on family friendly policies needs to be more available so it encourages dads to take them up. It also highlights that dads are often not aware of managers using flexible working informally and says more senior managers visibly taking advantage of flexible working would help to normalise it.

The report sets out a four-stage process for SMEs to create more family friendly organisations:


Firstly, they need to consult family friendly legislation and develop policies in keeping with it.


Leadership should ensure that they adequately train managers to deliver family friendly policies set in place with their teams.


It is really important to communicate information about family friendly policies through regular internal communications, but also to consider setting up schemes such as a dads network. Managers should encourage take-up and make the business case for family friendly policies as well as creating a forum for sharing concerns and experiences, says the report.

Leading by example

Where possible senior managers need to lead by example, with their own take up of available policies such as flexible working,  and do so in a way that is visible to all staff in the organisation.

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