Building a father-friendly world

Launch of New Dads Workshops

shutterstock_237839584.jpgBecoming a dad is amazing, rewarding and challenging. So in National Work Life Week, we're proud to unveil our new dads workshops – successfully piloted this year to help employers support first-time fathers.

This week is National Work Life Week – a much-needed opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on work-life balance and well-being at work.

And we’re particularly proud to be using the NWLW Scotland conference this week to launch the New Dads Workshops we’ve been piloting with major public sector employers in the Year of the Dad – a way for employers them to support first-time dads at an important time in their lives.

Our research, undertaken with the University of Edinburgh's Business School and department of Social Psychology, piloted new dads workshops with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, aiming to increase engagement and strengthen relationships at home and at work during the life transition of fatherhood.

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“We hadn’t undertaken any previous work to understand the experience of new dads managing a new baby while participating fully in the workplace,” said Kim Hunter, Head of Equality and Diversity at the Scottish Government. “So when we were approached by Fathers Network Scotland to participate in the Year of the Dad New Fathers Workshops, we were delighted to agree – the outcome from this research will help us consider further how to support our new dads.”

“We’re aware we’re a very diverse organisation, and in order to support all our staff it’s important that we hear directly from them about their experiences.”

Using resources tailored by FNS and Family Friendly Working Scotland for use in the workplace, participants were encouraged to share knowledge about their child’s development, policies at work, and how to manage their work-life balance. You can read the report here.

We found that by giving the dads the opportunity to work through their concerns at home and at work they were felt better equipped to manage the transition. This in turn helped them focus on family and work and help prevent conflict. They welcomed the chance to meet other dads who were at the same stage of fatherhood. 

And at the end of the 3 month pilot, here’s what some of them fed back…

Lamine Lachhab, National Records of Scotland

Being a first-time father is the most amazing, rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.

I think the SG is an exemplar employer for those with young families and I have made small but subtle changes to my daily working routine to ensure that whilst working full time I can maximise the time I spend with my daughter Freya. Having a genuinely understanding line manager and being able to communicate with her has been fundamental in ensuring that I can be productive at both work and home.

It has been great meeting other like-minded fathers in the workshops and being able to discuss some of the societal prejudices that exist towards modern, hands-on fathers. 

I think we all agreed that whilst generally meant in a nice manner, the comments from folk that “ah daddy is babysitting today” is actually a little demeaning. The workshops have also highlighted that whilst we are making progress, we still have a long way to have true gender equality with regard to childcare when comparing Scotland to some of the Scandinavian nations.

Mark Collins, Patient Rights and Participation Team, Health and Social Care

Intense – that is the word I’d use to describe my experience of fatherhood. Everyone was right – nothing can prepare you! So it was with some trepidation that I returned to work after my paternity leave still reeling from my baby’s routine and my lack of sleep.

But thankfully, my manager was very accommodating and flexible to my (and now my family’s) needs. I changed to a 7am–3pm working day, so I could better support my wife, and was able to use special leave when an emergency came up.

It’s been very reassuring at a time when as a new dad you’re always questioning yourself.

Then I was introduced to the Fathers Network Scotland, which helped, firstly by providing me with information to strengthen my familial relationships, and secondly by introducing me to other fathers with similar issues. It’s been very reassuring at a time when as a new dad you’re always questioning yourself.

Ryan Gilbert, Transport Scotland Communications

First-time fatherhood is the most enjoyable challenge I’ve ever experienced. You can do all the preparation under the sun, but you’ll still never be ready for the whirlwind that’s about to hit when the little one arrives! It’s all worth it though and I can honestly say I’m loving (almost!) every minute of it.

Coming back to work was a bit of a wrench, but the workshops were really useful. 

Coming back to work was a bit of a wrench, but the workshops were really useful. It was good to speak to other dads – they were a great bunch of lads and it’s reassuring to know other people are in the same position as you. It was also really helpful to find out about all the options available to you around flexible working.

Will Tyler-Greig, Social Security Policy and Delivery Division

The latest report from nursery is that our son, Jonah, enjoys “using his fine arts skills”. No more than 10 minutes into a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, however, and he’s fast asleep – it’s all too much for him.

But it’s in the quiet moments like these one gets the rare opportunity to reflect on the emotional roller-coaster that is first-time parenthood. And that’s why the ‘Father’s Network’ workshops have been so useful, creating a much-needed space for reflection on what it means to be a good dad and how to manage a whole new set of priorities.

It created a much-needed space for reflection on what it means to be a good dad and how to manage a whole new set of priorities.

My wife (who works in the third sector) and I have both felt very supported by our respective employers, something which isn’t as guaranteed elsewhere. And I think this makes us happier, more productive people.

Like What you hear?

If you would like to find out more about bringing these workshops or other support for your working dads into your workplace, contact Head of Research, Sam Pringle

For more information on National Work Life Week, please click here: With our friends at Family Friendly Working Scotland, we’re encouraging people to ‘go home on time’ during the week, as research shows that many parents are working far longer than their contracted hours every week.