Child Care: What's In It for Our Organization?

child care for employees

As a basic principle, the value of child care for employees is pretty inarguable.

Working parents make up a substantial portion of the workforce. So losing them means risking the contributions of the millions of mothers and fathers the Bureau of Labor Statistics says have children under 18. Child care connects the dots.

But getting business leaders from recommended practice to actual investment takes more than anecdotal evidence; it requires actual numbers.

Child Care for Employees; the Micro versus Macro Equation

And the numbers are there. Care arrangements (their absence or unreliability) are a known cause of talent loss. Moms and dads are equally stressed. People with employer-sponsored child care are more than three-quarters less likely to leave because of child care problems. That's a big potential savings when you consider the tens of millions of working parents, many in key professional roles that are expensive to replace. Turnover at such levels has been put at as much as 200% of an employees' salary.

Such broad retention numbers are a starting point. But the micro questions are equally critical. A CFO with a budget and board members understandably needs to illustrate, "How does this benefit our business?" And for HR people, it means the additional question of, "Where do we start?

And maximizing upside of child care for employees will depend on understanding an organization's own goals and general makeup. A child care center as a strategy isn't the same solution for every business. And as with forming any strategy, you have to help stakeholders identify the pain points and priorities it can address.

Answering the Question, "What's in it for me?"

So getting to "what's in it for our organization" will start with answers to key questions: 

  • What are our workforce demographics?
  • What are our goals?
  • What is our worksite like ; in one location or dispersed?
  • What are our specific employee challenges?
  • Do those with whom we compete for talent offer child care?
  • What exactly would we recognize as ROI?

Getting from Nice to Necessary, one Organization at a Time

We'll be looking at the specifics of those questions, and how to address them, in weeks to come. But the real starting point is moving the dial on child care for employees from the perception of a "perk" to the business strategy that it is. The President has been among the many voices sending the message that child care is a "must" as opposed to "nice to have."

"It's time we stopped treating child care as a side issue... or as a women's issue," he said in his 2015 State of the Union, "and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us."

Delivering on that priority will likely have to start one organization - and one strategic goal - at a time.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.