Lifeed is a programme that looks to help men understand they can be a good dad and a better employee at the same time
It’s felt for most of 2020 that just keeping a job and keeping your head above water counted as success. But could working dads actually increased their skill set through the pandemic? Have the months working from home and juggling homeschool and parenting made working dads more employable?
That’s what the folks at Lifeed believe.
Lifeed is a programme for parents that helps them recognise the skills they gain and hone from the domestic load. And it’s aimed at employers who want to know the strengths and weaknesses in their workforce and get the most out of their employees by tapping into the skills they use at home but perhaps haven’t thought of bringing to work.
Stefano Rovelli from Lifeed took me through a demo recently. He explained that the programme is aimed at helping men embrace their role as a father. And it wants to challenge the false dichotomy that sees family life as something in opposition to a career.
There’s three key takeaways. The programme is to help new families reflect on their new roles, think about what the experience of parenthood is teaching you, and assess and certify the skills acquired.
It seems to be going down well. One dad, tech developer Pier Luigi Azzali said, “The program makes you aware of many skills that you didn’t know you had, but were actually inside you all along. In this way, I’m much more aware of what I am as a whole. The most beautiful skills that the program allowed me to develop were empathy and priority management. I also felt like I grew in terms of listening, empathy, and properly understanding people. It was very nice to bring this all into the workplace.”
Lifeed was founded by Italian Riccarda Zezza. After 15 years of working management positions in the corporate world she was demoted after having her second child. She felt that the experience of parenthood gave her incredible new ‘invisible’ skills, but her employer saw it as a burden. She created Lifeed to tackle the problem. The company claims over 15,000 people and 70 International organisations have chosen the program to date, including companies like Accenture, Santander and Danone – across all different industries.
Employees comfortable bringing their whole self to work are usually more productive. As Stefano explained, “If you support new parents in your company, that’s good for your bottom line.”
Parents take a sort of soft skills test at the start and end of the programme. So they can see very clearly what they’ve learned along the way. And there are real world exercises, called missions, involved to make the relevance away from your screen explicit. Participants put in 20-30 minutes a week on modules that feature a mix of open and closed questions. So there are straightforward questions and some that require a bit of introspection and thought. Those write-in answers can be shared with the company using the software, anonymously of course, to give bosses an idea of how employees are feeling and what they can do to help. For this reason Lifeed has recently adapted its programme to apply to not just parents but those returning to work post lockdown.
The firm has combined the two to reach tentative but nevertheless interesting conclusions. That parents tended to be more rational in their response to the Covid crisis. Dads used to dealing with domestic dramas were calmer, more rational and did not panic or shut down in the face of the pandemic.
It’s a classic example of exactly what Lifeed is trying to demonstrate – that parenting skills are useful in the workplace and ought to be valued as such. Added Stefano, “Spending the afternoon reading a story to your child does not mean you are foregoing your professional ambitions. You can combine the two, they can feed off each other.”