Small Ways for Dads to Signal the Importance of Work-Life Balance

There are many small ways to signal the importance of work-life balance while at work. By doing so, we advocate for ourselves and support our fellow working dads.

When I am interviewed about the challenges faced by working dads, one of my go-to lines is that, “in many workplaces, it’s not safe for men to ‘out themselves’ as highly involved dads.”

While this statement is sadly still true, I am encouraged by the increasing number of men speaking up about their family priorities while at work. When dads signal the importance of work-life balance, we take the conversation out of the shadows. Sending visible signals reinforces the fact that involved fatherhood important, normal and widespread. We need to ensure that it is recognized as such at our workplaces and communities.

I’ve spent the last few years working with dads and employers on work-family concerns. Many dads have shared with me how they to assert their work-family priorities while at work. Here are a few things they’ve told me. While I recognize not every dad has the security to do all of these, most of us could probably find small ways to support our cause by signaling the importance of work-life balance.

  • One dad used his email “out of office” message to tell people he was on paternity leave and to encourage others to do the same
  • Another used his shared Outlook calendar to block off time when he would be out of the office for family reasons, giving these blocks of time labels like “visiting daughter’s school” and “son’s doctor’s appointment”
  • One dad, as part of his job, ran new employee orientation at his firm. He starts each session by showing a picture of his family, tells a story, and then has the new employees share theirs
  • This one is from a working mom who runs her own business. Her email “out of office” message during the week of school vacation read: “Thank you for your email. In addition to President’s Day, those of us at X have children who are on school February Break this week. We are working intermittently as we manage the complex (and rewarding) intersection of work and home. I will be checking email as often as I can and will get back to you asap” 
  • Other dads have simply had conversations with the supervisors and teams about when and how often they will check email or messages when out of the office
  • Some are very up front with coworkers about when they have to leave work early

I’m curious to see how you’ve signaled the importance of work-life balance. Please write in your experiences and ideas below in the comments section.

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