A report published by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) has found that men increasingly want flexible working hours to support their roles as fathers, carers and engaged volunteers in their communities.


The Men Get Flexible! Mainstreaming Flexible Work in Australia Businesses, produced in partnership with Westpac, shows that flexible work can generate positive outcomes for men, women, families and organisations.


Nareen Young, DCA’s CEO said the findings reveal a significant number of men desire greater access to flexible work and this is especially the case for young fathers:


“Having the flexibility to manage family and personal life was one of the five most highly valued job characteristics for men, and for young fathers it was the third highest. As more men are now part of dual-earner families and are expected to be involved in parenting and family, we need to consider how we can support the contribution men and fathers make to individual, family and social well-being.


Men can be reluctant to use flexible work for fear of career penalties, explained Ms Young.


“Organisations need to foster an organisational culture that is more supportive of flexible work for men, one that pro-actively encourages men to engage in flexible work. Providing senior male role models who work flexibly and using fatherhood as a pathway to greater access will assist.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Demographics have changed and more men in the workforce are now experiencing higher levels of demand in terms of balancing their work and family/personal commitments.
    • 64% of fathers had a partner in the paid workforce, and 31% had elder care responsibilities.
  • There is considerable diversity amongst men and many now do not conform to the ideal ‘full-time’ worker model and have different priorities and aspirations (e.g. to be active fathers).
  • Workplace flexibility is a key driver of employment decisions for men, including young men, men approaching retirement and especially men who are both younger and are fathers.
    • Having the flexibility to manage family/personal life was in the top five job characteristics for all men, and for young fathers, it was the third most highly valued job characteristic.
    • 18% of men indicated that they had seriously considered leaving their organisation because of a lack of flexibility. Young fathers and men under 35 years of age without caring responsibilities were much more likely to indicate this – 37% and 29% respectively.
  • Men who have the flexibility that meets their work and family/personal needs are more likely to be engaged and to contribute their discretionary effort.
  • Men who have greater access to flexible work that results in a reduction of either work/life conflict or reduced work to family/personal life spillover:
    • Are more effective in their jobs, report higher work performance, are less troubled by work overload, take fewer risks that can compromise productivity and are absent for fewer days; and
    • Have lower levels of personal stress and burnout and work-life interference or conflict.
  • Fathers who have greater workplace flexibility experience lower levels of work to family conflict, and higher quality parenting and family relationships.
  • Active fathering has been found to relate to higher quality family relationships, the psychological well-being of men and to gender equality both in domestic work and in paid employment.