The 2014 Major League Baseball opening season attracted unexpected media coverage when a radio host criticized Mets player Daniel Murphy for missing the first two games of the season to spend time with his wife and newborn son. Was he wrong? Turns out, Mr. Murphy was simply taking advantage of the league’s new paternity policy.
This high profile case highlights the changing conversations regarding dads, parenthood, and the workplace. But let’s expand the conversation and look at two everyday professional dads.
Chris Fedele, Operations Manager for an International Bank, is the father of a 16-month-old toddler. Chad Oliveiri, Vice President of Curriculum Development for an e-learning company, is a father of a six year old and four year old. Both dads made it clear that having children motivated them to succeed in their careers.
It is apparent that right before our very eyes, the manner that fathers are viewed in the workplace is changing. Although Chris gets the occasional “Mr. Mom” joke, both Chad and Chris believe that dads are viewed more positively in the workplace than in the past.
Employers are also viewing dads differently and providing generous paternity programs. Chris received six weeks of paid paternity leave that he used intermittingly, but could have used concurrently. If Chris was employed at the London or Canadian branch of his company, he could have expected six months of leave.
Company culture can significantly impact how working dads navigate their work and parenthood schedule. Chris says that it is important that he is viewed in the workplace as a team player and he is very consistent with his 8:00 a.m. -5:30 p.m. work schedule. If there is a project that requires Chris to work past 5:30 p.m., he is faced with a difficult decision of leaving work or having to pay extra for childcare. At this early stage in his career, the decision to pay extra for childcare is often the way to go.
On the other hand, the telecommuting culture at Chad’s company allows flexibility for Chad to attend school events that occur during the day. However, without established company policies around telecommuting, company culture is not enough to make a father feel comfortable about missing too many days to attend kid’s events. Too many people out of the office at the same time can create a prickly buzz.
For new working dads, understanding your company culture and aligning your work schedule to fit in this culture is essential.
As the workplace landscape continues to evolve for dads, Chris and Chad had a few tips for the newest members. Chris wants new working dads to understand that parenthood is a 24 hour job and Chad wants new dads to remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “It is easy after long day to want to shut off, but you got to snap out of it and engage yourself and your family.” Solid advice from everyday fathers stepping up to the plate and trying to hit homeruns for their families.