Consider this: What would you do if one of your male employees approached you about paternity leave? Would you respond favorably if a male asked for a flexible work schedule to care for his child?
Although many men are choosing jobs that offer flexible options for this very reason, a Bain & Company study found that these requests are being denied.
The Proof is in the Numbers
1,030 employees in Australia were surveyed for the Bain & Company study. Of those, over 25% of men said they were seeking flexible work options so that they could care for their children. Still, the Australian Human Rights Commission found that advocacy for these men was lower, with 27% of men reporting discrimination in parental leave and return to work.
Why Does This Matter?
As an employer, you might be thinking that the reason for discrimination is justified. You need your employees and traditionally, it makes sense for the men to return to work over the women. Bringing kids to work isn’t always an option either.
As it turns out, there’s a reason for the discrimination.
Men who had flexible working hours were actually less likely to be confident and committed to their jobs than those who didn’t have flexible work arrangements. In addition, men who had flexible working hours were not as big of an advocate for their company as those who didn’t.
The presumed reason? Men who work flexibly are experiencing the same stigmas as women experienced in their early days of juggling work and childcare.
What Can You Do?
What can your company do to appeal to a wider audience of men who want flexible working hours without losing advocacy for your business or recruiting men who are not committed to your firm?
The report gives four solutions.
1. Encourage flexible working
The more you can encourage your employees to work flexibly, the more they’ll feel liberated to accept this as a standard, regardless of role or gender. Even if you can’t offer complete flexibility in working hours, you can offer the flexibility for each employee to manage his or her own schedule using an app, such as ScheduleBase.
2. Make flexible working work
Part of encouraging flexible working is to ensure it’s serving its purpose. Monitor these arrangements and make sure they’re serving as an asset to both men and women.
3. Create a culture around flexible working
This starts from the top down. If senior leaders are in favor of flexible working, chances are, the rest of the team will be too. Set an example and create your culture around flexibility.
4. Make the policies clear
The clearer the policy is, the harder it is to refute. As the report says, “provide clear policies, set up enabling technology and create an agile work environment.” The better you can do this, the better your employees will embrace flexible work schedules for both sexes.
Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.