Back-Up Care Is Trending in This Year's Working Mother 100 Best Companies: Here's Why

Back-Up Child Care Is a Benefit at Working Mother's 100 Best Companies

A common discussion in work-life circles is what to do about absenteeism. Employers need their people at work. But what are parents supposed to do when the boss expects them at the office but a surprise leaves them without child care?

Anyone who's ever had a child wake up with sniffles on the day of an important meeting or who lives in a place where snow days are a fact of life knows the question isn't merely theoretical.

Solving the Working Parent's Child Care Dilemma

The subject has come up on any number of radio shows and newspaper articles. And it isn't just your everyday moms and dads doing the talking.

"There was one morning when I was due in court at 9:30 for a trial. It was already 7:30, and Chelsea, just two years old, was running a fever and throwing up," recalled Hillary Clinton at a speaking engagement in 2014.

"If Malia or Sasha got sick, or the babysitter did not show up, it was Michelle who got the call," said President Obama at the 2014 White House Summit on Working Families.

What the Working Mother 100 Best Companies Know

So it's not surprising that a trend among this year's Working Mother 100 Best is to make sure they've got that problem covered. The vast majority of this year's honorees - 89% - provide back-up child care, versus only 4% of the general employer population.

Absenteeism is the primary target. The multi-million-dollar problem costs organizations roughly $3,000 to $4,000 per employee per year, adding up to substantial sums for large companies. But organizations that offer replacement care do more than just preserve critical business continuity; they make statements about culture, too.

A Lifeline for Employers and Employees

Companies with zero-absence policies pretend children don't exist; conversely, with flex time (offered by 100% of Working Mother companies), telecommuting (also 100%) and child care resources (96%), these employers of choice write children into the handbook. In an era in which more than half of the nation's 40-million families with young children have two working parents, that statement appeals to a large segment of the workforce that companies desperately need.

"As a working mother," one employee who uses back-up care told us, "these are the ways you survive."

It's an evolving mindset that differs starkly from days of yore. Talking to the White House Summit audience, President Obama remembered the day years ago when Mrs. Obama, applying for a job, brought six-month-old Sasha to the interview "just to kind of explain this is what you will be dealing with if you hire me."

Increasingly, successful companies are saying outright to working parents, "come work for us!and this is what you'll get."

Judging from the prestigious names on the list, the strategy seems to be working.

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.