Millennial dads are being let down by work

Groundbreaking research finds current workplace culture doesn’t fit with the aspirations of dads under 40 when it comes to work-life balance


Landmark new research has shown a shocking disconnect between what millennial dads want from work and what they get.

Two thirds of all dads aged between 24-40 have changed job or are actively looking for a new post because they want a better work-life balance. There are clearly big gains for employers that get to grips with the millennial mindset.

The survey of over 2000 fathers for the DaddiLife website and supported by Deloitte threw up a slew of hard-hitting findings.

The paternity gap

The ‘Millennial Dad at Work’ report throws what others have called ‘the paternity gap’ – the difference between expectation and reality – into sharp relief.

For example most dads have asked for a change in their working conditions but very few are granted what they apply for. Only around one in eight that asked to work from home just one or two days a week was allowed to do so. Only around half of those requesting a change to their working hours was successful.

The research took in dads from across the UK and working in all sectors. The best industries for getting a change to working hours accepted were construction, retail and education. The worst were wholesale, the non-profit sector and advertising. Advertising consistently comes out near the bottom of the list across a range of measures including industries that make men feel guilty for having family commitments and those where there is likely to be tension with managers and colleagues.

Younger dads, those aged between 24-29 were most likely to report tension with colleagues perhaps suggesting their co-workers felt they hadn’t earned the right to make work fit around their family. This theory is backed up by another part of the survey that found the longer someone had worked for a firm the less tension they were likely to report around workplace flexibility.

Around two in five workers reported tension with their colleagues or bosses. The causes are complicated but holidays, attending school events, ill children and leaving on time all registered as issues that trigger problems at work.

Tension between a dad and his partner is more likely if his partner works full time – as is the case in most couples surveyed.

Mental health

Men also reported that trying to juggle work and home commitments is having a negative effect on their mental health. 60% said they felt guilty about failing to find the right balance.

The report found that most men said their workplaces understood that dads have a hard time balancing work and home but very few are acting on that understanding. However it offers insight and solutions. 60% of dads want more widespread flexible working, half think paternity leave should be improved and a third want more information from their employers about paternity policies.

Suggestions to make things better include more training for line managers and HR and simply giving dads more explicit reassurance that their needs are recognised.

Scale of change

The conclusion to the report states, “DaddiLife has been reporting on the Millennial dad shift for the last three years, but throughout this process the insights have surprised and at times shocked us as to the scale of change needed. More new dads want a different role at home compared to what may have been the cultural norm in generations gone by.

“While organisations appear to be recognizing the greater role of dads in the home, it is clear that they now need to enable them to succeed both at work and in the home. With two thirds of dads having already either changed jobs or are actively looking, the need to genuinely act on this is now more urgent than ever.

“Greater flexibility at work is at the heart of the Millennial father’s work/life balance goals, and in its absence, more than a third are feeling the effects, not just physically but mentally. We now need organization leaders, line managers and HR to converge on this topic if we want to strive for genuine equality at work.”

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