From diapers to desk: Supporting fatherhood in the workplace

Employers can promote work-life balance by implementing family-friendly policies, which are crucial for building a more inclusive society.
By: | May 15, 2023

Fatherhood is a crucial role that is often overlooked, and fathers may face barriers in accessing support and resources to fulfil their caregiving responsibilities. Fortunately, organisations like the Centre for Fathering (CFF) in Singapore are taking the lead in recognising the importance of fatherhood and promoting involved fatherhood.

In February 2023, CFF organised the Great Companies for Dads Awards 2023 to acknowledge organisations that support fathers with policies and practices that enable them to thrive at home and in the workplace. Five organisations from various industries, namely City Developments Limited, Focus on the Family Singapore, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Partior, and Animal & Avian Veterinary Clinic (AAVC), were recognised for their family-friendly policies and practices that go beyond industry standards and recommendations.

AAVC was commended for its support for employees with young children. One of its key initiatives includes a family-friendly working schedule that consists of two shifts: 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm. This schedule enables fathers to pick up and drop off their children at school, take them to after-school activities, and prepare dinner before returning to work for the evening shift.

Dr Kenneth Tong, Chief Veterinarian Surgeon and Founder of AAVC, highlighted in an interview with HRM Asia that the goal is to ensure fathers can spend quality time with their children before bedtime, despite the fact that they may miss out on dinner with the family. He said, “AAVC strives to maintain a balanced work-life approach by operating until 2pm on weekends and public holidays, even though these are peak periods for client visitation. While this policy may not make business profitability sense, AAVC prioritises the welfare of its employees over mere profitability.”

Another initiative AAVC has in place is called bring your child to work day, any day, anytime. This provides an opportunity for the child to witness their father’s work, communication skills and work ethics, while emphasising the importance of early childhood education and continuous learning.

To ensure that its family policies remain responsive to the evolving needs and challenges faced by fathers and their families, AAVC consults with its employees who are parents in the formulation of these policies. As some of the management team members are fathers themselves, they can relate to the constraints faced by working parents and are able to provide more feasible and effective suggestions.

As the needs and challenges for fathers and their families in the future are shaped by diverse internal, external, and global factors, AAVC remains attentive, adaptive, and flexible, Dr Tong concluded. “Our goal is to provide support to our employees, who are an integral part of the AAVC family.”

Initiatives that cater for family bonding

Partior, a blockchain-based technology provider for cross-border payments and value exchange, was another recipient of the Great Companies for Dads Awards 2023. Joanna Khoo, Human Resources Director, Partior, expressed gratitude for the recognition and described it as a “great booster” for the organisation, which was only established in 2021.

Partior has implemented several policies to support its employees, including providing 30 days of sick leave and family care leave for employees to care for their family members and offering five days of voluntary leave for employees do to volunteer work with their families. According to Khoo, giving back to society and instilling a sense of philanthropy in younger generations are crucial values upheld by Partior.

Khoo also pointed out that Partior has three employee resource groups (ERGs), including one specifically designed for parents called Partior C.A.R.E.S. This ERG is open to all employees, including fathers, and provides family-related resources, education, and opportunities for personal growth, advocates for organisational policies and practices that support the wellbeing of Partior families, as well as practices empathy to understand each other’s experiences, challenges, and perspectives.

“We believe in giving back to the society we work and live in,” she elaborated. “Activities that the C.A.R.E.S. group organises are relevant for families, including sharing of recipes, parenting workshops, family-related and corporate social responsibility (CSR) related events. This provides a platform for employees and their family members to share their experience and learn from one another.”

Khoo revealed that Partior is working closely with CFF to leverage their workshops and talks, which cover various stages of parenthood as well as fatherhood, and added, “We are really impressed by what CFF is doing so we are also sharing that with our employees.”

CFF praised both AAVC and Partior for their family-friendly policies, stating that these policies not only benefit employees but also contribute to building a more inclusive workplace.

Bryan Tan, CEO of CFF, DADs for Life and MUMs for Life, concluded, “It’s very encouraging to see these organisations put in place exemplary HR policies and workplace practices that supersede all required stipulations. Parents, specifically fathers, are very well supported at these organisations. Many fathers there can become more involved and engaged with their children, which brings benefits to marital relationships and children’s wellbeing, thereby strengthening families.”