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Number One dad blogger John Adams questions why employers don’t recognise the skills that parenting gives you and which are invaluable in any workplace.
A couple of months ago, I was introduced to a workplace training provider who has just entered the UK market from Italy. The training is fascinating. The whole idea is to raise awareness of the skills you learn as a parent and demonstrate how they can be applied in the workplace.
If you think about it, there are many skills us dads learn and develop that are relevant to our professional lives. Negotiation, empathy, time management, communication and budgeting are just a few of the skills we use daily as parents.
Employers, however, seem to draw a very firm line. For the most part, they don’t recognise these life skills as transferable to the workplace.
It’s a very odd approach. After all, we all know that negotiating bedtime with a four-year-old is more difficult than negotiating with a corporate solicitor. Empathy is a skill every workplace manager needs and mums and dads rely on it all day, every day, but do bosses care about the empathy skills you have learned at home? More often than not, no, they don’t.
In fact, there was a comment in the training course materials that caught my eye. I can’t remember what it said exactly, but it was roughly as follows:
“We talk a lot about work-life balance, but if we only live one life, why do we go to such lengths to separate work and family life?”
Let’s look at this a little more deeply. We seem to have a very disjointed approach to work and family life.
Every year we have ‘Bring your Daughter and Son to Work Day’ to introduce them to the workplace and inspire them. Recognising that many parents don’t understand what their children do for a living, LinkedIn previously ran Bring in Your Parents Day.
You can bring your daughters, your sons and your mum and dad to work. Just don’t, whatever you do, bring in hard-learned, heard-earned, transferable skills from home. They aren’t considered relevant.
The training in question is called Life Based Learning and it’s provided by Life Based Value. It was established by a woman called Riccarda Zezza when she was transferred to a different job after returning from her second period of maternity leave, a move she was not impressed by.
The course involves completing a number of modules, each of which is focused on a different skill you have as a parent. You then have to complete a task focused on that skill.
In many respects this is a genius idea. Employers will spend a fortune sending staff on training courses to learn skills such as time management. In reality, they’re wasting money because they’re being trained in skills they already have. Zezza’s course recognises this and simply enables staff to have these skills formally recognised (and some large organisations have offered it to their employees including Accenture and Santander).
I’m not suggesting we should completely break down the barriers between work and home. After all, we’d all simply end up working on holiday and never switch off at night-time.
If I think about how I have changed since becoming a father, I’ve changed a great deal. I have become more responsible. I’ve become more reliable and I’m a better listener and picked up all manner of skills along the way. Presumably because they don’t want staff distracted by family commitments, employers simply don’t seem to recognise these skills.
In conclusion I challenge you to do three things. Firstly, think about the positive ways you have changed since becoming a dad. I also want you to think about how the skills you have learned can be applied in the workplace.
Finally, the next time you successfully coax a reluctant child to get ready for bedtime or persuade them to try a new food, stop and think for a moment. Think about how difficult that was compared to your recent workplace experiences. Think about which experience honestly gave you the greater sense of satisfaction and whether you have faced a more difficult situation at work recently. I’ll wager work was the easier option!
John Adams of dadbloguk is a father, blogger, writer and media commentator. He was named Vuelio’s Number One dad influencer in 2019