COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way in which we work and live, resulting in unique challenges for working parents. Out of necessity, these challenges have prompted important conversations around the role that men have in the workplace and at home, what these roles currently look like, and how they may have changed, or could change, as a result of COVID-19.
To better understand the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on working fathers, Transitioning Well has partnered with Di Marzio Research. After conducting 10 in-depth interviews during the first lockdown, the second stage of the research includes an online survey to reach a wider audience of fathers. In addition to better understanding the experience of working fathers at this time, this research also hopes to better understand the perceived level of organisational support received and ways in which this can be improved.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that there is more recognition than ever before of the importance of supporting working parents. However, Transitioning Well’s co-founder Dr Sarah Cotton believes that there still exists a lack of understanding around the challenges that working fathers face, and the best ways in which to support them, particularly through the COVID-19. Senior consultant at Transitioning Well, Sarah Hellwege cites an increase in anxiety for some fathers, who are struggling to effectively manage daily responsibilities, including childcare responsibilities, home learning, paid work commitments, and regular household tasks.
Paul Di Marzio, researcher, director of Di Marzio Research and a father of two young boys has experienced firsthand the challenges of trying to juggle work and family responsibilities through COVID-19. The results of the initial in-depth interviews conducted by Paul earlier this year give an interesting insight into this group of workers, indicating that fathers are generally influenced by a desire to do what’s right by those closest to them, and that any support provided to them (by their employer) which helps them to support those closest to them is greatly valued. Whilst also acknowledging the very real challenges brought about by COVID-19, many fathers also shared that it had also been a blessing in disguise such as being home for dinner and being able to help with morning routines in a very practical way.
As working fathers navigate these unchartered waters, there has been minimal research into the types of support that they receive from employers and whether or not they are helpful. Dr Cotton concurs and hopes that the findings from this new research will provide practical and tangible suggestions to workplaces on how they can better support their working fathers through COVID-19 and beyond. “We know that the months surrounding a child’s birth are a window of opportunity during which fathers are most receptive to support and behaviour change. We also believe that the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has also created this incredible window of opportunity for working fathers and workplaces alike. The question is how will we harness this time?”
Participants for this study are fathers with children of any age who are working, and the questions focus on the work-life experience, both prior to, and during COVID-19. Given the lack of understanding around the challenges that working fathers face, and limited data on the best ways in which to support this particular group, this study will help to develop strategies and best practice guidelines that organisations can apply in practice. The survey https://lnkd.in/gj8rARm, can be completed anonymously, or participants can share their details for a chance to win 1 of 3 x $100 gift cards.
COVID-19 brings with it the opportunity to rethink the role of working fathers, and how we can redefine work and life moving forward. In examining the supports that currently exist, and identifying what is lacking, we can and establish additional support systems and further develop strategies that can help fathers to work and live better!