I´ve been reading a lot lately about family-friendly companies: what can be done to make companies more family-friendly, what types of programs are available in companies that are considered family-friendly, and what working mothers can do to ensure that the company in which they work is moving in that direction.
One of the topics that comes up quite a bit when discussing family-friendly companies is that of on-site childcare. In a blog I posted on Saturday, I mentioned that a survey had been conducted on a bulletin board I frequent and that out of 25 respondents, only one mother worked for a company that offered on-site daycare.
So what are the benefits to working mothers in regards to this type of childcare arrangement?
First, those with very young infants can breast or bottle-feed as needed, while mothers of older children can stop in during break time and lunch hour. Easy access to the daycare center might also make the mothers feel more comfortable, as they know that they can easily visit or view their children throughout the day.
Secondly, this type of setting can decrease tardiness and eliminate the need for parents to leave early to pick up their children in order to avoid late fees. Travel to and from work would no longer require a pit stop at the daycare center.
Thirdly, on-site daycare has shown to decrease turnover rate. In one survey, nearly 30% of respondents had known someone who quit their job because they were not able to find adequate daycare. If a mother feels comfortable with her daycare setting, she is more likely to remain at her job.
Are their drawbacks? Some say yes. In one article I read, a mother stated that she felt she needed more down time between leaving her workplace at the end of the day and picking up her children. She felt that the transition from employee to mommy would come too quickly with on-site daycare. Commute time can be a great time to release the tension of the day, but if you are commuting with your children in tow, you won´t get that quiet time that you might desperately need.
One way to combat this if your children are in on-site daycare is by giving yourself a thirty-minute window each day between getting off of work and picking up your child. Walk around the block, stop in a local bookstore to browse, or grab a cup of coffee and people watch until the tensions from your job have diminished.
According to Rachel Connelly, who co-authored the book, "Kids at Work: The Value of Employer-Sponsored-On-Site Childcare Centers," on-site childcare is beneficial to children, mothers, and the companies in which the mothers work. During a two-year study, Connelly and several other researchers found that most workers would be willing to pay between $125 and $225 per year to subsidize the cost of on-site daycare, even if the employee did not have young children that would benefit from the setting. The workers believed that this type of daycare would help reduce turnover and increase productivity among the workers.
So it is possible to see how on-site daycare would benefit the employee, but what about the employers?
A study done by Cynthia Ransom and Sandra Burud at the Union Bank in Pasadena, California showed that the bank saved between $138,000 and $232,000 annually in operations due to a reduction in turnover and absenteeism from their on-site daycare program.
Another report, done by the U.S. Department of Treasury, stated that employers might find on-site care beneficial because it increases an employee´s morale, lessens absenteeism, increases productivity, and benefits the community.
So just how does on-site childcare do all of this?
First, employees have to find quality daycare before they can find a job. If an employee has a daycare that is not reliable, the employee may leave the job due to the instability of their daycare setting.
Secondly, parents may be more interested in working for a company that offers an on-site childcare program, even if the pay is less or the benefits not as strong. The Child Care Partnership Project states that 85% of employers report that providing childcare improves employee recruitment and that 1 in 3 parents is willing to change employers or trade benefits and salary if they can find a work-family program. In this same study, fifty-four percent of employers stated that the services had reduced absenteeism by as much as 20% to 30%.
There are those opposed to the idea of certain family-friendly policies. Lynette on Desperate Housewives wanted to attend her son´s first day of school but her boss wants to know why it is okay for a parent to take time off for her kids when she can´t even get out long enough for a haircut. I read several blog posts and articles written from the perspective of childless employees who wanted to know the same thing: Why should a working parent have special privileges when the childless employee did not?
So as with every issue, there are numerous sides.
Yet on-site childcare can be a great perk in the right environment, and as research has shown it can also improve morale and turnover rates, which in the long run benefits everyone.