The role of a dad has changed dramatically in the past decade or so. Now, more and more dads are taking a much more active role in the day-to-day upbringing of their children. And the change in a dad’s role is leaving so many more men preparing for fatherhood.
Dads being active and equal caregiving parents is a relatively new concept for employers to understand, too. A culture shift is required to ensure that they are supportive of both male employees wanting to be active fathers and mothers who want a career.
Thankfully, there are a few steps employers can take to help men prepare for fatherhood, and ensure their culture and policies are fit for the modern-day. Removing uncertainty and stress from his work life can help a dad-to-be to focus on his partner and the new life he’s about to lead.
Start a dialogue
In years gone by, a man telling his employer that he’s going to have a baby was usually met with a high-five, a handshake, a pat on the back and maybe a beer after work.
Now, it’s an opportunity to start a dialogue and show that you, as their manager and as an organisation, want to support them through their journey however possible. Reassure them that they can join their partner at scans and antenatal appointments without fear of being fired or damaging their career prospects. You can also start to talk about what his ideas are around paternity leave and working patterns after the birth.
Plan for paternity leave
Planning workloads around the dad’s paternity leave will not only help to alleviate stress but also ensure continuity for you as an employer. Whether they’re going to be off for two weeks or two months, you’re going to have a period where their workload and projects need to go elsewhere.
Bring colleagues into the conversation around to bring them up to speed on projects, and discuss how the tasks will transition to them once the baby has been born.
Discuss working patterns
Becoming a dad can often change your perspective on life and how you want to live it. Sometimes, even the most ambitious and career-driven employee can turn around and want to become a stay-at-home dad.
They might not have the answers until months after the baby is born, but during pregnancy is a great time to try and understand what their early thoughts are around working patterns. It gives the dad time to consider his options, and also gives you time to plan.
Being accommodating as an employer is the most important thing here.
Review paternity policies
Maybe you’re a larger organisation and you’ve been thinking about changing your policies, or maybe you’re a new business and this is the time an employee is having a baby. Either way, now is the perfect time to review your existing paternity leave policies.
Paternity leave policies vary quite dramatically around the world. For example, in the US there is no legal minimum allowance for paternity leave meaning some employers could force new dads to return to work straight away. In the UK, new dads are allowed one or two weeks at 90% of their salary. However, in Sweden, parents can split up to 480 days between them and Lithuania allows new dads to take 30 days and share up to three years at around 70% of their salary.
This is your chance to steer your company in a more positive and inclusive direction for modern working parents.