The Changing Role Of Fathers
Interview with Sarah Meier
How has the role of fathers in organizations changed with both parents working from home?
While it has become quite accepted that mothers will work part-time or flexibly to manage the family responsibilities, it is still not the norm for working fathers to feel comfortable to make space for family time. I have heard from so many fathers how wonderful it has been to be able to be more involved in the daily lives of their kids: from walking them to school in the mornings to cooking lunch for the family. I have a feeling that they are not going to want to give up this new connection with their families so easily when lockdowns are behind us.
Who have been your personal trailblazers of 2020?
I am inspired everyday by the people who go beyond their roles to make a difference. The parents@work peer coaches are motivated only to support their colleagues, showing up with generosity, curiosity and empathy. They are my personal trailblazers, especially in 2020.
What support systems do working parents especially need right now?
I am a huge believer in peer support systems. Exchanging with a colleague and fellow parent brings so many benefits: It helps us understand that we are not alone, that it’s normal to feel this tension between work and family. We get to exchange on good solutions, we are inspired to do more, and we feel a sense of purpose when we have an important task to perform, like supporting a colleague through a challenging time. And during this time of uncertainty, having a safe space to share our concerns reduces the worries immensely.
Can you name one HR-related element any company needs to plan for to weather whatever 2021 might bring?
How transparent and proactive are the communication channels between the employees and their line managers? I always recommend that new parents prepare for all eventualities, and ensure their line managers are involved in the decision process, informed and onboard before it ever happens. For example, what is your plan when the baby is sick and you need to stay at home - what will be your protocol? Creating these boundaries and guidelines will mean the difference between implementing a prepared and agreed on plan where everyone knows what to expect and how to manage the situation, to employees feeling guilty and trying to hide their challenges, and possibly putting themselves into an intolerable situation.
How are the fathers and mothers you work with looking into the future?
With this sharp shift towards digitalisation, the human aspects of work and life have never been more important. By delegating more work to AI, we can focus on bringing ourselves to the work, giving us more purpose. With this newfound flexibility thanks to remote working we can design our jobs around our lives, reducing this tension between work and family. If we can have more purpose and the flexibility to own the way we work, I believe many parents will be able to bring all their gifts to the front. We are all excited about the future.
About Sarah Meier
Sarah has 20+ years of experience in global organizations, mostly in sales and marketing roles. As a working mother, she knows personally the challenges of combining work and family.
She is a passionate advocate for working parents, and as the founder of parents@work she is dedicated to enabling companies empower their working parents!
SPOT ON organisiert die DisruptHR Events in Zürich.
Founder & CEO at parents@work