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  Working Dads and Flexible Work – what’s really going on and what you can do about it  
  This month has seen the release of new data showing fathers are seriously stressed by the demands of work and home. Any company serious about offering workplace flexibility should be making efforts to extend flexible work options to all employees, not just mothers with young children.
Flexible work practices are rarely adopted by men, by those caring for the elderly or by people without children who could benefit from flexible hours (for a variety of reasons).  Expressing a view which would appear to be commonplace, Scott Howells, a working father of two said, “I have seen female colleagues take time off for maternity leave and return to flourishing careers but I can’t help thinking that if I took a year away from my job it would be looked upon with suspicion by any future employers.”
The problem may be that many employees assume flexible working is just part-time work which is often perceived to be less pay for the same responsibilities.
Flexible working is not for everybody but you may have employees who are struggling to meet work and home commitment and who think of resigning before discussing flexible options. Save time and money by offering a less dramatic solution to the problem.
The following are a few practical examples to help you overcome the reluctance some employees may feel about flexible working:

Educate people on what flexible working really means
Don’t let your employees assume that flexible working just means less pay. Explain that options can include everything from working from home to flexi-time to job sharing, staggered work hours and more. Make sure this is reflected in your internal policies!

Create a mentoring programme
Encourage employees who are already working flexibly to speak out about the benefits to others within the company. Hearing from high profile people who aren’t working mothers can help remove the ‘stigma’ for other employees.

Discuss flexible work options in annual performance reviews
You may have employees who could benefit from working flexibly but who haven’t thought of it as an option available to them. Discuss flexible working as a standard part of all review conversations, especially those related to alleviating work-related stress.

Get your recruiter on board
You have budget for another employee. The amount you have to spend equates to hiring someone in a junior position. Why not consider a skilled and experienced candidate on a part-time basis? Encourage your recruiter to raise this option with all applicants, not just working mothers. 

Adjust standard working hours
Many businesses work with customers during the core hours of 10am – 3pm. Perhaps the other hours can be done from home? For those employees who need the extra flexibility for making the school run or taking relatives to medical appointments, this can be a real help.

For more information on flexible work options and creating a flexible work practices ask mums@work about our Flexible Work Toolkit and Training services.

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