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What About Dads - Don’t We Get Work-Life Balance, Too?

We hear countless comments, suggestions, and complaints about work-life balance, and as of yet, I still don’t think we understand what it means. However, a recent special issue of the journal Employee Relations provides a very intriguing overview regarding the current state of work-life balance theory and practice. In the introductory article, Doris Ruth Eikhof, Chris Warhurst, and Axel Haunschild provide a scathing criticism of the assumptions and evidence on which the current work-life balance debate rests. Some of the assumptions they challenge are:

  • Work-life imbalance results from over-work
  • Work-life balance programs should be primarily directed toward those with childcare or eldercare duties
  • Women provide all of the support for their families
  • Employees don’t identify with their work roles and need a means of escape

Last year, Career Builder conducted its annual Father’s Day Survey and found that a staggering 37% of working dads would leave their jobs if their spouse or partner made enough money to support the family, while another 38% would take a pay cut to spend more time at home. It could be because they are over-worked, or it could be because they get little support for trying to manage a full-time career and being a good parent. It is clear, though, that the need for men to strike some sort of equitable relationship between work and non-work demands has not really caught on. Why might this be?

Well, a Monster survey  revealed that only 29% of human resource professionals viewed their company’s work-life balance programs favorably. So, maybe working dads want to leave or cut back because less than 3 out of 10 companies have a work-life balance program that actually meets their needs. Why is it so difficult to believe that fathers want to spend time with their spouses, partners, and children, too? We also want to be able to spend time with other members of our family, spend time with our friends, and participate in other activities. I recently came back from a 6-day trip to Washington DC. The next night my wife and I were sitting down talking, and she told me how hard it was being a parent to three children all by herself for 6 days. She commented “It made me realize just how much slack you pick up around here.” It would be nice if working fathers everywhere could get that same recognition…especially from their employers.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Matt Grawitch published on March 31, 2008 11:32 AM.

Have You Had Your Work-Life Balance This Week? was the previous entry in this blog.

The High Price of Cost Cutting is the next entry in this blog.

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