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Why More Men Are Making Work-Life Balance A Priority At Work

The following was syndicated from Linkedin for the Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

To keep excellent women employees, businesses need to be sure to offer benefits that support work-life balance, right?

Wrong. Well, half right.

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Research from EY proves that, in fact, U.S. men are even more likely than women to switch jobs or careers for greater work-life balance. They’re also more likely to move to another state or country for the same reason.

Why is this finding so surprising, and why has it gotten so little attention? Because men generally don’t talk about it.

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It’s time to eradicate our Mad Men-era work structures that act as gender police, pushing men to stay at work and women to stay home.

Across the country and around the world, businesses are losing great men for the same reason they’re losing great women. Parents, especially, seek real work-life integration. They value time with their family over money. In fact, the majority of men worldwide want to work less for more time with their children.

The statistics and research on all this are in my book, All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses — And How We Can Fix It Together. And here are my 5-minute opening remarks at the United Nations:

But the pressures against men acknowledging this are powerful. Dads lose job opportunities, get demoted, or even get fired for taking paternity leave, seeking flexible schedules, or in some cases even just talking about being equal caregivers to their children.

So men are leaving their jobs for new ones that offer benefits like paternity leave. But they’re not telling their employers why they left. Only when these studies come along do men tell researchers the real reason. Women more often make their reasons clear to their employers.

Also, women are still much more likely to take career breaks after having children. But the number of men doing so is on the rise — 50 percent to 22 percent, respectively, according to EY.

The upshot is that businesses don’t realize how many great men they could also hold onto if they offer better work-life integration.

This is why benefits like paid family leave and flexibility pay for themselves many times over. Replacing an employee can cost up to 200 percent of annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Compared to that massive cost, offering an employee several weeks of paid leave is a drop in the bucket. And offering a flexible schedule can cost nothing at all.

The majority of men worldwide want to work less for more time with their children.

Of course, some small businesses don’t have money in the coffers to provide for any paid leave. This is another reason that the real solution is to establish a national paid family leave insurance system. These programs already exist in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The results are phenomenal for businesses and employees — profits and employee retention are up, more people stay in the work force, and fewer people depend on public assistance.

It’s time to eradicate our Mad Men-era work structures that act as gender police, pushing men to stay at work and women to stay home. And it’s crucial that men be a loud and proud part of this effort.

No more hiding our struggles in the shadows. We must all think of these Mad Men-era stigmas as being one big bully. Time to stand up to it.

In our workplaces, let’s all come together to build better policies and cultures that help our businesses and our families thrive.

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Read Chapter 1 of All In for free, here.

Josh Levs is a corporate consultant, former NPR and CNN journalist, and author of All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses – And How We Can Fix It Together. Check out more from him at joshlevs.com.