U.S. employers wise up to the realities of family life

Jun 15 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

There are signs that corporate America may be becoming more attune to the needs of parents as a new survey finds that employers are catching onto demands from dads to have a work environment that is supportive of their dual role as employee and parent.

While most dads aren't on diaper duty from their desks or fixing bottles in the board room, they are very aware that their responsibilities as a dad don't stop when they step out the door to go to work each morning.

And according to a new survey by PayScale.com, many employers are realising that today's fathers are keen to take a more active role in childcare responsibilities.

The survey found that more than half of fathers (53 per cent) feel that their current employer is very or extremely supportive of their responsibilities as a parent, with six out of 10 reporting that their work environment is very or extremely flexible when it comes to the demands of being a father.

Indeed, almost a quarter of the dads surveyed claimed that they handled half of their family's child care responsibilities on a typical work day

Among the initiatives being adopted by employers are flexible schedules and the option to work remotely which allow fathers to participate in important activities and milestones that past generations of dads have missed due to the rules of the workplace.

According to the survey, eight out of 10 fathers have employers that support the need to adjust daily work schedules to attend school and/or doctor's appointments and nearly three out of 10 said that they are able to work remotely when needed.

Almost half of dads rated being able to adjust workday schedules for school or doctor's appointments as an extremely important employee benefit and one in five were keen on the idea of paternity leave.

Six out of 10 also said that their employer would be happy for them to bring a child to work in the event of an emergency.

But while the survey also found that the amount of support that male employees with children feel they get from employers is on par with the amount of support that their female counterparts feel they receive, it is clear that employers still have a long way to go to meet the needs of parents of both sexes.

When PayScale.com surveyed both mothers and fathers, only a quarter of mothers and 22 per cent of dads described their work environment as extremely supportive of their role as a parent. Moreover, just 22 per cent of moms and 18 per cent of dads rated their workplace as extremely flexible.

"Employees are placing more and more value on non-cash compensation that allows them to spend more quality time with family," said Mike Metzger, CEO of PayScale.com.

On-site daycare is prime among the benefits that he said dads are keen to see offered at their workplace, especially in families where both parents work during the day, and many would also welcome an assistance fund for a child's current or future education.

"Employers actively supporting their employees' role as parents, attract a higher level of talent and exhibit higher retention rates. Subsequently, parents are not forced to choose between their families and careers," Metzger added.