June 17, 2010

Even as they look ahead to Father's Day, many working dads are experiencing heavier workloads, added stress and less time spent with their families because of the struggling economy.

CareerBuilder's Annual Father's Day Survey finds one-in-10 working dads said their spouse or significant other has become unemployed in the last 12 months, with half indicating that it is causing stress at home. Forty-two percent of those polled are the sole provider for their household and nearly one-in-ten (nine percent) have taken on a second job in the last 12 months to provide for their family.

Leaner staffs are creating more demands at the office, making it harder for working fathers to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Sixty-three percent said they work more than 40 hours per week. Three in ten (31 percent) working dads who take work home reported they typically bring work home five days a week or more. Thirty percent bring work home on the weekends.

Heavier workloads and longer hours are resulting in less quality time with family. Close to four- in-ten (37 percent) working dads said they spend two hours or less with their children each workday. More than three-in-ten (35 percent) reported they missed two or more significant events in their child's life due to work in the last year.

"Especially in tough times, working dads have to be more creative and strategic to successfully juggle both work and family commitments," said Jason Ferrara, VP Corporate Marketing at CareerBuilder and father of two. "Employers understand the importance of working dads' time away from the office and continue to place an emphasis on work/life balance through benefits that encourage employees to better manage their schedules. However, year over year, we find that nearly half of working dads do not take advantage of the flexible work arrangements offered to them."

Keeping your balance

Ferrara recommends the following tips for working dads navigating through difficult economic times:

• Keep everyone in the mix. Remember -- communication is a two-way street. Besides just listening to what is going on in your family's lives, talk about what is going on in your office, so everyone understands why you are away or have to do some work when you are home.

• Learn to say "no." In addition to actual work, sometimes activities associated with your job can take a toll on your free time. Determine what additional activities you can turn down and which are necessary so that you can free up more of your time outside of the office.

• Develop a master family calendar. Add every family member's schedule to one master calendar so there are no surprises. Also, save vacation days for important events and talk to your supervisor about flexible work arrangements.

• Play now, work later. Put down your Blackberry and avoid checking e-mails until after your children have gone to sleep.

• Plan a family event in your office. Take advantage of the summer months when school is out and the office may be less hectic by scheduling a kid-friendly potluck or other event with co-workers and their families.