Working fathers who see their children daily are more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to resign, according to a new study.
The findings, to be published next month in the Academy of Management Perspectives, suggests that companies should allow working fathers time with family as way to increase employee retention. It also hints at the importance of flexible schedules so that fathers can be there for their children, even during traditional office hours.
“Instead of promoting ideals based on outdated gender norms, firms need to recognize fatherhood as a serious and time-consuming activity, both through formal flex programs and through encouraging supervisors to support fathers in fulfilling family commitments,” Jamie Ladge, a management professor at Northeastern University who co-authored the study, said in a statement. “This is especially so in view of the enhanced job satisfaction and company loyalty that our study suggests is fostered by involved fathering.”
For much of post-industrial history, companies have pushed an ethos of working long hours and being on-call at all times. The result, in many cases, is self-defeating because it creates unhappy employees who are more likely to leave.
The study’s authors, who surveyed nearly 1,000 working fathers in white-collar jobs at four Fortune 500 companies, say that employees are comforted by managers supporting fathers who spend time away from the office. Men are becoming increasingly involved in duties associated with child-rearing and employers should not be concerned that an expanded role at home could leave employees disconnected from their jobs.
Recently, The New York Times cited another study showing that fathers do, in fact, see a career boost, including higher wages, when they have kids. That same study showed that women see their wages decline when they have children and often receive lower pay than childless women. The Academy of Management Perspectives paper refers to the persisting notion that women with children see their careers suffer, though Fortune noted recently that working mothers and childless women are often promoted at roughly the same rate.
At the same time, though, the Times cites another study showing that working fathers can also see their careers suffer once they have children if their increased roles at home result in too much time away from the office. That study claimed that fathers who take paternity leave, or other time off with their families, often find themselves demoted or with decreased hourly pay.
But, the Academy of Management Perspectives paper suggest that employers would be smart not to punish working fathers. The authors write that their research found that “strong support from an organization via its management can mitigate the negative relationship between involved fathering and career identity.”