What Do Dads Want Most From Their Jobs?

Where a meager salary was once welcomed as a miracle by many educated, experienced jobseekers, it’s now requiring a little more than the mere promise of employment to attract – and retain – quality candidates. But what is it exactly that draws talented employees in, and keeps them motivated? As you might expect, it’s not the same for everyone.

In honor of Father’s Day, we surveyed over 10,000 dads currently looking for work to find out what job benefits they prioritize. Interestingly, 82 percent of dads say having kids has helped their career. Though one might expect that supporting a family might make maintaining a full-time work schedule more challenging, it seems that having a family actually encouraged fathers to seek better employment opportunities – ones that afforded a higher salary, better benefits, and gave them more time with their partners and children. The most important job benefit among working dads was a good salary, with 42 percent of respondents rating it number one. Salary was followed by family health benefits (26 percent) and then a flexible work schedule (12 percent). A full 44 percent of dads surveyed also said they would turn down a job that wasn’t ‘family friendly.’

After reviewing these findings, we were curious how working mothers would respond to the same questions. While their core necessities were aligned, mothers and fathers prioritized their top-choice benefits slightly differently. Moms’ most important benefit was a flexible work schedule, followed by a good salary and then family health benefits. Mothers were even less likely to work with a company that wasn’t family friendly, with 52 percent surveyed saying they would turn down the role.

Moms were also less emphatic when asked whether having a family had helped their careers – only 64 percent said that it had. While a family might be a generally positive force for the careers of both mothers and fathers, it appears that mothers face more challenges in balancing work and family life. According to a recent study, women perform more household chores and take on more responsibilities within the family than their male counterparts – even when both partners work the same number of hours at their jobs. This extra ‘invisible work’ could account for the 36 percent of mothers who feel having a family has actually hurt their professional careers.

An emphasis on work/life balance and family accommodation is clear, so how are organizations rising to meet the needs of today’s workforce? “We have a work when you want, where you want, policy. That means there is no cap on vacation time, sick days or work-from-home days,” says Tammy Durand of Best Version Media, “This allows our team to make their kid’s games, pick them up at school and take them to doctor appointments, without the stress of PTO or limited days. Additionally, we have paid maternity and paternity leave, including adoption. It creates an ‘I’ve got your back while you’re out’ environment.” Tammy has found that focusing on meeting the needs of employees actually serves the organization better as a whole. “Strong families create strong cultures. When a mom or dad can’t stay at home with a sick child because there are no more sick days, they will resort to either lying or they will resent the company for making them choose between their child and the business. That never ends well for either.” Many of BVM’s new hires actually come by referral, which simplifies the hiring process and provides an extra layer of recommendation – another bonus to nurturing an excellent company culture.

Even industries not typically known for their emphasis on work/life balance are adapting to accommodate these needs. John Hellige of First Fleet Inc., a family owned trucking company, has found a focus on family and community beneficial for both employees and the health of the organization, “It’s unique for a trucking company to be this flexible, but it’s important to us that our drivers get home-time with their families. We listen to them and work around their schedules.”

A recent study found that 40 percent of young workers, male or female, in the United States are so unhappy with the lack of paid parental-leave policies that they say they would be willing to move to another country. Employees without children are just as keen on work/life balance, especially as more millennials with no experience competing in a recession economy enter a workforce with the knowledge that employers are the ones vying for their talent. For companies slow to adapt to the changing tides, they’re only shooting themselves in the foot. Family friendly, balanced workplace cultures are the new norm, and ultimately better for both company and employee productivity.

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Kylie Anderson is an L.A.-based writer who covered employment trends for the ZipRecruiter blog.

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