How Yale Attracts and Retains Five Generations of Workers

Yale University Child Care Center

Offering an Ivy League education requires Yale University to recruit and retain the best faculty, researchers, staff and students. To do so, the university has a longstanding commitment to offer Ivy League benefits and care to their 16,000+ employees.

With a workforce that varies widely in age, Yale’s human resources team recognizes the importance of supporting employees at every stage of life with flexible care options that meet their unique needs. They've partnered with Bright Horizons since 2008 to support and flex this strategy. Well ahead of the curve, Yale University and its employees have seen the value and return on investment when employers support working caregivers.

No stranger to child care

Yale understands the impact employer-sponsored care solutions can have on talent strategy and employee retention. A 2022 survey from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) found that approximately 35% of higher ed employees are likely or very likely to look for new employment opportunities in the next year. Turnover is more common for higher ed institutions and Yale has always been focused on their retention strategy as a result.

The university first partnered with Bright Horizons in 2008 to open a child care center on their West Campus, which still operates to this day. The center, which can serve up to 124 children, takes child care off the plate of Yale’s working parents. One Yale employee shared what the center means to her family: “Thanks to Bright Horizons at Yale West Campus, my husband and I can focus on our work and be more productive during the work hours, so that we can spend more time with our daughter at night and on weekends. We are very grateful that Ms. Tjuana and Marsela are very patient with our daughter, and we are proud to see her progress every day! She enjoys daycare and learns much more than staying with us."

Many of the university’s faculty and staff also utilized and praised the center. In a Bright Horizons survey of center users, 100% of survey respondents said using the center impacts their ability to concentrate on their job and be productive.

Susan Abramson, Yale’s Manager of Work-Life and Child Care Programs is unsurprised at the survey results, noting, “we’ve been very focused for a number of years on being an employer of choice, both in terms of recruitment and retention. To remain an employer of choice, you can't be steady state; you have to continue to improve your resources and benefits. It really attracted parents to have access to the on-site child care. For many parents, having a resource right where they work, where they could go, is hugely important.”

Having back-up care in place

In addition to on-site child care, Yale also provides last-minute back-up or emergency care when an employee’s original source of care is unavailable. With a large portion of their workforce now hybrid, this benefit is more crucial than ever.

“If a working parent who was planning to work from home now needs to come on campus, they need that same flexibility with child care,” says Deborah Stanley-McAulay, Yale’s Associate Vice President for Employee Engagement & Workplace Culture. “And I think through Bright Horizons' diverse set of services, we are able to meet the needs of many of our working parents.”

The benefit paid immediate dividends for one Yale faculty member. Sherry Agabiti, PhD, an Associate Research Scientist at Yale Medical School, utilized two weeks of back-up care when her planned child care center fell through. The back-up care available on Yale’s West Campus was a lifeline for Agabiti, serving as her primary child care until she was able to find a new center. She notes of the benefit, “I’m honestly very grateful to have something like this. Not having care for your child is very stressful. Having an option like back-up care alleviated some of that worry. Not many places would offer that type of care to their employees.”

It isn’t just Yale’s academic faculty that are able to utilize back-up care, however. Employees at the university have access to the care they need to keep them productive and give them peace of mind. Of the impact that back-up care has on Yale’s day-to-day operations, Stanley-McAulay comments, “Our operations go far beyond teaching. When employees use their back-up care benefit, it helps ensure our community members can eat in our cafeterias, get help with technology issues, access our libraries, and walk safely around our campuses. Every day saved is critical to our success as an institution."

The Bright Horizons survey data confirms that Yale employees take full advantage of the back-up care benefit, with faculty and staff utilization approximately 30% higher than the industry average. Among those who responded:

  • 88% of survey respondents would have missed work without this benefit
  • 92% of survey respondents say back-up care reduces their stress and makes them feel more committed to Yale University

Supporting every life stage

Child care benefits are essential to Yale’s development and retention of their young workforce who are in their prime family building years. But family needs change over time, and Yale’s diverse workforce spans five generations. While the largest percentage of clients who use Bright Horizons back-up care program have younger children, approximately 6% have used it to care for aging or ill parents, spouses and adults in their care.

Stanley-McAulay notes how benefits like back-up elder care help the university not only recruit, but retain talent in the long-term. Speaking to the need for diverse care solutions, she says, "We have employees from five different generations working at Yale and needs change as you get older and your life evolves. So I think what is most pleasing to me is that we believe many of our programs can support the different event stages and phases of an individual's life, whether they're with us for 40 years or they're with us for five years.”


Yale University Child Care Center

Subscribe to the On the Horizon Newsletter