A Guest Blog by Scott Behson
“I worry that unless my generation of busy involved dads don’t start making change happen, company cultures will remain unchallenged, and more and more dads will have to struggle seemingly alone.” – Scott Behson
Dads, do you relate? As we wait for politics and organizations to catch up with the needs of dads in the workplace, Scott Behson recommends taking matters into your own hands.
Below is an excerpt from a blog post Scott wrote describing the steps you can take to help change our work cultures to recognize dads as actively involved parents. Or watch our 12th Annual Father’s Day live podcast. You’ll hear three dads talk about the changes they made – at work and home – to play an active role in the everyday lives of their children.
Be the Change You Wish to See
If you have the security, flexibility, courage and inclination (I recognize some may have more ability to do this at work than others), here are a few steps we can take in our workplaces to make it easier for dads to discuss and address work-family demands at our workplaces.
- Talk about your family and ask other men about theirs
- Make sure other men in your workplace see you use work flexibility for family reasons
- Take paternity leave
- Start a Beer Fire! Organize a group of male friends or coworkers to discuss life outside of work
Where to Begin?
If you are excited by these ideas, here are some ways you can start integrating your life outside of work into the workplace right now. Each idea is a small but important way we as men can make it easier to discuss our lives as dads at work – and taking these steps will have a big positive impact for both men and women!
- Keep pictures of your kids/family not just in a small frame facing you on the desk, but in a prominent place at your on-site or remote workstation (an 8×10 on the wall behind you may be ideal)
- During “water cooler” chit-chat, or while waiting for a zoom meeting to begin, don’t just talk about the latest sports gossip, talk about what you did with your kids last weekend, or discuss their little league games (or whatever)
- Look for opportunities to talk to other men in your workplace about their lives outside of work, including their families. Encourage them to share their family activities – like what they did with the kids on vacation, etc.
You can integrate these tips at the beginning of meetings you run or if you are a supervisor and can generate these conversations with men who report to you, that’s even better!
Many dads struggle with work-family issues but, because they do not see other men talking about these issues, many feel like they struggle alone. By putting these suggestions into action, you make it more normal for men in your workplace to discuss family issues, and to bring some of our non-work lives into workplace discussions.
This Father’s Day, put these small but important steps into practice. They just might help lay the groundwork for making big changes around creating more supportive workplaces for all.
Scott Behson, PhD, is a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and a leading expert in work-life, wellness, and flexible workplaces. He’s the author of three books, most recently: The Whole-Person Workplace: Building Better Workplaces Through Work-Life, Wellness and Employee Support, which is based on research, best practices, and interviews with dozens of business and HR leaders right as they were navigating Covid changes to the workplace.