31 Oct Child Care Support is Critical for DEI
In America today, 40% of parents say they’ve gone into debt from the high cost of child care. The lack of quality, affordable child care is forcing mothers out of the workforce, limiting opportunities for advancement, and costing them hard earned dollars.
For working parents, it has become increasingly difficult to find quality, affordable childcare services. Some have left the workplace for lack of access to childcare and ability to afford the rising costs of childcare for young children. During the pandemic, McKinsey & Company study found that parents were more likely to have left their jobs than their nonparent counterparts. Reasons include exhaustion from the competing pressures of working from home and juggling childcare responsibilities, struggles with returning to the office but not finding consistent childcare, and reevaluating their overall work–life balance.
Impacts on the Workplace
Overall, inadequate child care is costing working parents $37 billion a year in lost income and employers $13 billion a year in lost productivity. A 2021 survey of 2,500 working parents found that nearly 20 percent of them had to leave work or reduce their work hours solely due to a lack of child care.
Employers can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to their employees' challenges with finding affordable childcare options.
• In a 2022 McKinsey & Company survey of working parents, when asked about deciding to stay with an organization or switching to another, 83 percent of the women and 81 percent of the men with children aged five and under said that childcare benefits would be a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor in the decision.
• About 40 percent of respondents who were considering moving to a less-demanding job said that on-site childcare services at their current company may cause them to reconsider.
• And 38 percent of respondents said that their companies’ assistance with childcare expenses would also be a key factor in their staying with the orgnaization.
Lower retention rates place an additional burden on employers as some high-performing working parents may choose to leave the workforce due to child care challenges. So it is important to consider childcare as a key retention factor.l
Actions Organizations Can Take to Support Working Parents
Companies that offer child care benefits see better recruitment, retention, productivity, and diversity – and that translates to real dollars. Whether it’s on-site child care centers, access to back up care, cash stipends to put toward their child care costs, or flexible work hours to accommodate caregiving, every organization can do something to be part of the solution.
Flexible Work Hours:
Organizations can make childcare more convenient for working parents by addressing their need for flexible
arrangements and hours—for instance, allowing them to change when they start and end their workdays so they can better meet childcare center drop-off and pick up deadlines. Other options include:
• Offering telework and hybrid work arrangements to working parents (including both salaried and hourly employees).
• Adopting an enhanced flex scheduling approach that allows team members to work through a centralized system to determine how and where they may be able to take hours off and make them up later.
• Allowing employees to split shifts, which lets employees complete a four-hour shift in the morning and a four-hour shift in the evening with extended time off in the middle of the day.
• Permitting employees to take vacation or personal time off in hourly increments to provide flexibility in scheduling for workers.
Direct Child Care Subsidies: organizations may offer full or partial tuition subsidies for center- or home-based care, flexible-spending accounts for dependent care, or creative financing models to cover childcare costs in the first five years of a child’s life, which are the most expensive in terms of caregiving services.
Connecting Parents to Additional Resources: There are many ways employers can help working parents find quality child care—including serving as a conduit to critical community information. Employers can collect data from their employees to gauge the needs and understand the challenges of working parents. This data will allow the organization to reach out to service providers and other key stakeholders in the community to identify the most relevant resources and share them with working parents.
Back Up Care Services:Companies can also provide support by connecting working parents with back up care services. Some organizations offer services that give employees access to backup care if a nanny is sick, a home-based daycare closes suddenly, or another emergency crops up. Additionally, some organizations are offering tutoring, after-school, and summer programming in hybrid settings for older children. Such services may be subsidized by the company, in part or in whole. Organizations can make it easy for employees to choose the best provider for the situation ahead of time—whether a family member or a childcare center or other third-party option—ensuring that employees can get backup childcare on short notice.
Onsite Services: Some organizations may want to explore on-site day care initiatives. Leading with equity in mind, tuition can be offered on a sliding scale, and services can be made available to both hourly and salaried workers. Organizations who have onsite child care services have reported 25 percent lower turnover rates among employees who use the childcare program compared with the overall workforce. Alternatively, companies could offer excess space in their facilities to childcare operators or provide demand guarantees to operators in childcare deserts.
Childcare is not only a family issue, it is also a business issue. It affects how we work and when we work. The trend of employer-provided child care or assistance influencing where people decide to work is sure to continue and strengthen. Employers that provide high-quality child care benefits not only differentiate themselves from the competition but can also create a “sticky” benefit that fosters retention. Employees are less likely to move to a new job if it also means moving their childcare from an environment they love and trust. It is up to workplaces to think creatively about ways to build the childcare infrastructure needed to help working parents keep working for their families, and the economy as a whole.
For more questions or comments and to discuss diversity in your workplace, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at DEI@ouroffice.io. Our team is here to support you in any way we can.