How Engaged Companies Handle Parenting

It’s difficult keeping our parenting and work worlds apart. We worry about projects and deadlines when we’re home, contend with babysitters, sick days, PD days and how to get the kids to their dental appointments when we’re on the job.

“More and more companies are coming to terms with the fact that the majority of people in the workforce are going to become parents at some point,” says Anne Weisberg, senior vice president for Strategy at Families and Work Institute. “Supporting them throughout that transition, and beyond, lets companies keep valuable talent and helps employees do their best work. And it’s a no-brainer that an engaged, committed workforce is better for business performance,” Weisberg adds.

One company that opted to turn a blind eye is Apple. The corporation’s new 150 acre headquarters/campus boasts all the bells and whistles except for one biggie. There’s no onsite childcare facility. For Mashable writer Cassie Murdoch (and a lot of parents – past, present, and future) this intentional oversight is inexcusable.

“Apple clearly could have included a daycare center if they’d wanted to. Hell, they could have built an entire K-12 school too. And probably a rocket launching pad for that matter. But these just weren’t priorities. And that says a lot,” Murdoch rages.

“This whole campus is a massive investment in Apple’s future, and their employees will not stay 25 forever. They’re going to grow up, and they’re going to start having kids. And as soon as they do, they’re going to be crazy thirsty for a place to drop those children off while they do their work. Too bad they’re not going to find it. They will, however, find a daycare on Google’s campus.”

True that. Google has four onsite childcare centers near its Mountain View, California campus. New moms get 18 weeks of paid leave and parents planning to take an equal or primary role in their child’s first year get 12 weeks — plus $500 cash for “baby bonding.”

Similarly, American Express began offering a paid 20-week maternity/ paternity leave in January 2017, plus an extra six to eight weeks to birth mothers for medical recovery time. The company made it clear adoptive, foster, surrogate, and LGBTQ parents are included in this new policy.

Facebook made news recently when it began paying for egg freezing under a $20,000 benefit to cover fertility treatments. The company also helps with adoption fees, gives $4,000 in “baby cash” to employees with new arrivals and subsidizes childcare.

At Patagonia, nursing moms can bring their baby to work, as well as a family member or a caregiver from the company’s child-care center, all at Patagonia’s expense. An onsite childcare center at the company’s California headquarters lets parents visit their infants and toddlers during the day. Company buses deliver kids from local schools to the center for after-school care. For employees trying to become parents, Patagonia chips in on adoption fees (like Facebook and growing numbers of family-friendly organizations).

UK-based telecom Vodafone offers new moms the option to work 30 hours a week for the first six months after leave while earning their full-time pay. And at Arnold & Porter new parents who want to work part-time need work only 25 hours weekly to retain benefits.

Other novel family-centric ideas include:

  • Assigning a nurse to pregnant employees to answer questions and check up on them during leave
  • Free hospital-grade pumps, access to lactation consultants, on-site lactation rooms
  • On-site expectant-parent coordinators to help navigate the web of health insurance and leave benefits
  • An Intranet Bulletin Board where parents share nanny/childcare recommendations and needs
  • Free backup care when regular childcare arrangements fall through – available either at home or the office
  • Pairing new moms with veteran moms for guidance and support
  • Young children summer camps on-site
  • An annual adoption fair where employees thinking about adopting can get more information from agencies
  • A program for employees who leave to parent full-time that helps them keep in touch with former colleagues and allows them to attend training and events to stay sharp.

Baby it’s warm inside

Founded in 2007, Parenting in the Workplace Institute (PIWI) helps organizations set up formal programs so parents can bring their children to work every day and care for them while doing their jobs.  Since PIWI’s inception more than 2,100 babies have successfully “come to work” in more than 40 states as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Italy — in offices, cubicles, open-plan spaces, and retail environments — cared for by parents in positions as diverse as secretaries, cashiers, call center personnel, lawyers, teachers, bank tellers, logistics professionals, and executives.  What’s in it for supportive organizations?

  • Earlier return to work after a baby’s birth or adoption
  • Increased employee retention
  • Higher morale
  • Increased teamwork
  • Increased efficiency from parent-participants
  • Recruiting tool
  • Free publicity (in this day and age media love a good-news story)

A glowing posting on PIWI’s website, from GL Group, says it straight up: “One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen from the program is employee engagement. Providing new parents with this option helps them feel valued and allows them important bonding time with their new baby. We find they are more engaged and passionate about the company and their work when they return from maternity or paternity leave. Babies in the office also create engagement throughout the entire company. And we can’t take credit for it–it’s all about the baby. Just having babies at work makes employees feel less stressed, feel more connected with our core values, and brings a strong sense of family and trust into our culture.”

If that’s not reason enough to justify onsite childcare and stepping up to board the family-friendly train, one can only hope your workforce is well beyond child rearing years.

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