What if being fulfilled fathers meant that men could be satisfied employees?

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Légende: Recommendation of our expert

Expert Advisor:

Isabelle LÉTOURNEAU, assistant professor, School of Management,
Université de Sherbrooke


Étienne FOUQUET, research assistant, Université de Sherbrooke
France ST-HILAIRE, associate professor, human resource management, Université de Sherbrooke
Maude VILLENEUVE, research professional, Université de Sherbrooke

This initiative was made possible through a collaboration with the Université de Sherbrooke.

Balancing work and family life is one of the current challenges for employees and organizations. Today, many working men want to be recognized and supported in their role as a parent. Being a fulfilled father also means being a more satisfied employee. All organizations have an interest in putting in place concrete ways to promote work–family balance and therefore improve work–family enrichment.

Cooklin and colleagues (2016) conducted a study on work–family balance among fathers to understand:

  1. the consequences of work–family conflict and work–family enrichment on the parenting style of fathers;
  2. whether some fathers were more likely to experience a higher level of work–family conflict or work–family enrichment.

 What do we mean by:

Work–family balance

Work–family balance can be defined as “the activity whereby employees endeavour to properly carry out their professional and family responsibilities, in a context where demands related to their life at work and at home tend more and more to increase and conflict.*

* Chrétien, L. et Létourneau, I. (2010). La conciliation travail-famille : au-delà des mesures à offrir, une culture à mettre en place. Gestion, 35(3), p. 53.

Work–family conflict

The two main roles that a parent plays in their life are those of worker and head of the family. When one of these two roles demands too much time and energy compared to the other, the result is work–family conflict. When the parent’s resources are limited, they can experience work or family overload and a sense of tension.

Work–family enrichment

On the other hand, work–family enrichment reflects the parent’s ability to play several roles in their life, which helps them to get more social support from others. This support promotes job satisfaction, intellectual stimulation, self-esteem and effectiveness in their task.

Roles and social support

Although work can demand time and energy, interacting with colleagues is an important protection factor and allows people to manage different personal difficulties more easily, and therefore to enjoy better quality time with family. Having several roles can therefore increase opportunities for social support.


Parenting style

Three aspects make up parenting style:

  1. Parental warmth: the parent’s ability to listen to their child’s needs and to support the development of their independence.
  2. Parental consistency: the parent’s ability to create discipline and have it respected.
  3. Parental irritability: the parent’s hostile behaviour towards the child, such as rejection, impatience or severity.


The data are drawn from a longitudinal Australian study on the health of parents and children. The sample is representative of all Australian children and parents. The sub-sample used by Cooklin and colleagues was represented by fathers of preschool-age children: that is, where the challenges related to the work–family interface are known to be more difficult.

Researchers asked participants to respond, on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), to statements related to work–family conflict, work–family enrichment and parenting style.

 Profile of participants

  • 2679 Australian fathers
  • 37 years old (on average)
  • 91% are married
  • 2% have 2 or more children
  • 2% are the sole breadwinners in the family
  • Various business sectors

What do the results of the study tell us?

Length of work week Parenting style Explanation
Work–family enrichment among fathers promotes an adequate parenting style
Working regular
full-time hours
(35–39 hrs/wk
  • Higher parental warmth 



  • Low irritability
  • Satisfaction and self-esteem at work promote fathers’ efficiency and optimism. They would therefore be more likely to commit to and persevere in a warm and affectionate upbringing of their children.


  • An open and respectful attitude in the workplace increases fathers’ sense of effectiveness to respond sensitively to more demanding situations with children.
In a work–family conflict situation, fathers adopt a less adequate parenting style
Working more hours than regular
(40–49 hrs/wk**)


  • Low parental warmth



  • Reduced parental consistency



  • Higher irritability


  • The father would be less attentive to his children’s needs because of professional stress that spills over into the family domain.


  • The lack of energy and time related to work–family conflict would reduce fathers’ ability to manage family conflicts adequately and to use discipline consistently.


  • The father would show less patience and would be more severe towards his children, because having to respond to increased demands at work would make it harder for him to control his own behaviour at home.


Too many hours at work increases work–family conflict
  • The higher the number of hours worked
    per week …
  • The more intense the work–family conflict, and the less work–family enrichment there is.


  • The more the father’s physical and emotional energy is depleted, the more his energy available for the children is reduced.


  • Despite the benefits of the double role, work–family enrichment does not compensate for too many hours spent working. In spending long hours at work, fathers can feel distant from their children and excluded from the family routine.
When the father is solely responsible for the family, work–family conflicts are more significant.

** Charlesworth, S., Strazdins, L., O’Brien, L., & Sims, S. (2011). Parents’ jobs in Australia: Work hours, polarisation and the consequences for job quality and gender equality. Australian Journal for Labour Economics, 14(1), 35–57.

Actions employers can take

These results highlight the importance for organizations to support and promote work–family balance for fathers, no less than for mothers.


Action step
  • Offer measures for work–family balance
  • Adapt work hours and location: flexible work schedule, compressed schedule, reduced work hours, telework.


  • Offer leave: paid paternity leave, days off (paid or not) for family obligations, a time bank that can be converted into additional days of leave.


  • Offer benefits: family group insurance, catering service, concierge service, consulting service for career planning, employee assistance program.


  • Offer support to families: resource centre or referral service for family needs, daycare in the workplace, parents’ support group.


  • Put in place health and well-being options: training and relaxation room in the workplace, health care services in the workplace (e.g.: doctor, nurse, psychologist, massage therapist), stress management program.
  • Offer favourable working conditions
  • Periodically evaluate requests related to workload and time spent at work.


  • Give employees more autonomy so they can manage the organization of their work themselves.


  • Train managers to support their employees when it comes to work–family balance, and include this criterion in their performance evaluation.
  • Create a culture promoting work–family balance
  • Create a work–family balance policy anchored in the organization’s vision, mission, objectives and values. Inform members of the organization of the policy’s content and how it will be implemented.


  • Consider preconceived ideas that are maintained, along with implicitly accepted practices, to identify the organizational obstacles to work–family balance (e.g.: model of the ideal worker, current standards for work time or presence at the office, fairness between working mothers and fathers).


  • Overcome daily prejudices and practices by management that do not promote work–family balance (e.g.: by valuing the role of the father, condemning reprisals against those who take steps towards work–family balance).


  • Demonstrate a clear commitment by upper management in favour of work–family balance.


Expert Summary

Having job satisfaction to be a better father, and being a better father to have job satisfaction. Work life and family life are related, which is why it is important for organizations to contribute to work–family balance. Those who do not get on board now are at serious risk to have to deal with the following negative consequences for their employees:

  • dissatisfaction;
  • emotional withdrawal and lack of motivation;
  • a tense atmosphere and contentious work relationships;
  • work accidents and occupational diseases;
  • problems with absenteeism and punctuality;
  • high staff turnover;
  • performance issues.



Létourneau, I., Fouquet, É., St-Hilaire, F., Villeneuve, M.. (2018). What if being fulfilled fathers meant that men could be satisfied employees? Global-Watch Scientific Interpretation available at www.global-watch.com


Cooklin, A. R., Westrupp, E. M., Strazdins, L., Giallo, R., Martin, A., & Nicholson, J. M. (2016). Fathers at Work: Work–Family Conflict, Work–Family Enrichment and Parenting in an Australian Cohort. Journal of Famiily Issues, 37(11), 1611–1635.

Karine Casault
Author: Karine Casault