A series of three 3 hour evidence-based workshops for first time dads, developed to be delivered at monthly intervals in the workplace.
The workshops have been developed to enhance fathers wellbeing and therefore that of their families by focusing on:
- Relationship with child
- Relationship with partner
- Relationship with work
Each workshop incorporates the educational elements of the three areas, with accompanying practical and reflective exercises for individual and group work. This is supplemented by a workbook which provides a more comprehensive resource for participants to record their personal reflections throughout the programme.
Evidence shows that using family friendly policies increases well being by reducing work/family conflict. However fathers often don’t like to ask about such benefits afraid that using them might be perceived as not committed to their work. Employees are therefore given the opportunity to discuss family friendly policies with HR as part of the workshops.
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Becoming a father for the first time can be a wonderful experience and also one that presents a new set of challenges. One such challenge is ensuring first time fathers have a healthy work-life balance, one that enables them to develop a strong relationship with their child and and protect their relationship with their partner, whilst engaging effectively at work.
A study sponsored by Working Families in 2012 found that work engagement and relationship quality were positively correlated, indicating that strength in relationships at home is associated with strength in relationships and engagement at work. Research looking into the transition into parenthood also shows us that relationships between partners can deteriorate during this period and the child development, and lack of it, is related to this. Finally there is a wealth of literature showing the positive association between the uptake of family-friendly working arrangements and positive outcomes for child and partner relationships during the transition into parenthood; however, it is often mother and not fathers who take up the arrangements.
Taking this literature into consideration, we developed a series of workshops to be delivered during work hours for first time fathers to reflect, consider new challenges, and access knowledge and skills to strengthen their relationships in each of the three areas.
Participants have said:
“Itseemed to meet the needs I didn't know I had, and I find that a very powerful experience. I thought I had everything I needed, but I didn't as it transpired as this filled the need that I couldn't”.
"I had to get a lot more focused if I was going to get through things in my new time, whereas before if you were feeling a bit pressed you could just work an extra hour. I have to cut down the procrastination. So having that focus has maybe increased my engagement".
Two large public sector organisations joined a pilot programme which was researched by The University of Edinburgh. The workshop interventions was well received by the fathers and had overall positive feedback. It offered a unique opportunity for first time fathers to prepare and develop knowledge and skills and create an informal network at work.
Reasons fathers attend the workshops
Fathers wanted to meet colleagues who were in a similar situation. They had a desire to engage in self-development that might help their families and use HR policies. Participants also highlighted the uniqueness of the type of workshop, the rarity of male-focused support and perceived gender equality promotion. The formation of strong bonds and camaraderie with other fathers, as well as a curriculum and a progression of focal topics (i.e. child, partner, workplace), influenced continued attendance.
Value of Workshops
Establishing a support network of fathers was often cited as a valuable aspect of the workshops. The safe, honest, confidential and empathetic environment was viewed as helpful to the discussion and learning environment. Informing them of the impact of fatherhood on children and work endowed the fathers with confidence on their new role. Discussion of theories, particularly attachment theory and learning skills (e.g. active listening) were viewed as helpful.
Six weeks after the workshops analysis revealed the following findings:
- The appreciation that fathers felt towards their organisation for addressing their needs in work time (increased employee loyalty)
- Using skills developed in the workshop, such as active listening in work
- Increased autonomy to manage job demands
- Fathers could use the workshop to improve their competencies to manage work and family such as prioritising their own well-being as well as that of their partners.
- Having greater knowledge of and therefore confidence to access work-family policies
- Increased knowledge of their potential impact on their children and their partner relationships. For example, some fathers were less anxious and more confident at home as a result of their new knowledge and this helped their emotional equilibrium at work
- Their work could have greater meaning now they have a family to support.
Find out more in the full report on the Employee workshops, which including the Programme, content and exercises and further details on the research carried out.
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