An interesting finding comes to us from various professors at some well-reputed academic institutions — Northeastern University, Boston College and the University of Massachusetts — showing that the more time dads spend with their children, the better they fare on the job.
You’d think the opposite would be true, considering how more time with kids generally makes working mothers pull their hair out more and generally jeopardizes work, the release poses.
But in this month’s issue of Academy of Management Perspectives, a paper detailing the results of the study — based on a survey of close to 1,000 working fathers — will show that fathers spending more time with their kids and mothers spending more time with their kids yield very different results.
As the release about the study notes, researchers found that “the more time fathers spend with their children on a typical day, the more satisfied they are with their jobs and the less likely they [are to] want to leave their organizations.”
“Further,” the release says, “they experience less work-family conflict and greater work-family enrichment.”
Fathers spending time with their kids also put dedication to a career down a few notches on their career-identity/priority list, but the study says … hey, that’s … OK! As the release puts it, “any weakening of dedication can be effectively countered by management support with regard to work hours and family matters, the new research finds.” It goes on:
“In the words of the study, ‘Ideally, individuals should be able to foster a strong sense of involvement at home and still feel connected to their careers … . Analysis revealed that strong support from an organization via its management can mitigate the negative relationship between involved fathering and career identity.”
So why the difference between women and men? Though researchers Jamie J. Ladge and Maria Baskerville Watkins of Northeastern, Beth K. Humberd of U. of M. and Brad Harrington of Boston College don’t address it necessarily, an argument could be made that fathers are still getting the luxury of taking “baby steps” into more time with baby, whereas working mothers have long suffered “having to do it all.” (I say this as one who has been through multiple eras of this social experiment.)
But all in all, this is good news.
Now let’s see how many organizations can support the notion that fathers spending more time with their kids is a good thing. One study from a few years ago, written about in this HRE cover story, suggests they have a long way to go. It also suggests dads are more conflicted, not less, when they take that stand with their employers.
Looks like baby steps for both sides are in order.