On-site childcare, in my opinion, should a no-brainer for employers. And yet, experts say that only between 4 and 8 percent of companies offer this benefit. 4 to 8 percent. Most of us don’t fall into that percentage. But let’s look at three companies who do offer child care, and what they are doing right.
First, Nestle Purina. Not only does Nestle Purina allow employees to bring their fur babies to work, but they also allow them to bring their human babies. The Child Development Center is located directly across the street from their corporate headquarters in St. Louis, MO. By accepting children as young as 6 weeks old to 6 years old, Purina creates a work/life balance that is easier for their employees with children to manage. The Center strives to prepare children for a successful transition into elementary school, and the children learn Spanish, take computer classes, and even go on off-site field trips. Nestle Purina is also the company our co-founder, Priya Amin, had the privilege of working at for 5 years of her career.
Furthermore, in 2015, Purina joined the Working Parent Support Coalition, and their policy is widely considered one of the most progressive programs in this industry. This policy, implemented as of January 1, 2016, gives employees — including hourly workers — a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave as well as the right to extend this leave up to 6 months. It is applicable to all primary caregivers of newborns, including fathers and adoptive parents. Of this policy, Paul Bakus, President of Nestle US Corporate Affairs, said, “We believe all our new parents deserve more.” Thus, it’s no surprise that Nestle Purina has been on Glassdoor’s Best Place to Work list consecutively since 2014, and that their turnover rate is only 4%.
Next, Patagonia. Patagonia has been offering on-site child care since 1983. This is incredible. They’ve been immensely successful with this program as well: Their website offers video testimony of the child care program, of finding work/life balance, of being a working mom, of being a working dad, of supporting paid leave…basically, if it’s progressive, Patagonia does it. What I absolutely love about the video descriptions is that each one says “To offer this is the right thing to do.” Absolutely. This company truly understands how to help their employees: Patagonia also provides 16 weeks of maternity leave, and 12 weeks paternity leave. This is incredible to me: When Mary was born, my husband Evan was only allowed 1 week off, and the company required him to take Paid Time Off, as they don’t offer paternity leave. Me, I was a private nanny at the time, so sure, I got to take off all the time I needed (I took off 9 weeks, and would honestly have returned sooner if my former employer hadn’t lied to me about her kids being vaccinated, but that’s another tale for another time), but I didn’t get paid. Patagonia recognizes that women have a hard time re-entering the workplace once kids are born, and they do all they can to keep their female employees; wondering about their postpartum mom return rate? It’s 100%, according to this excellent article about Patagonia’s commitment to families. This article also details the infant room and how they financially can accommodate this program. Shockingly, it’s not difficult. Patagonia is a true model for companies looking to brand themselves as “family friendly.” Also, bonus if you’re the company CEO: Patagonia offers free consulting for how to do child care at your company. So what that tells me, is that there really is no excuse.
Finally, there’s Clif Bar and Company. One visit to their website, and you can definitely see the commitment to families and to having a good work/life balance. Clif Bar’s child care is called Base Camp, and they too have reported a high number of employee retention because of this benefit — 98%, to be precise. What’s cool about Base Camp is that the staff consists of early-childhood professionals, so kids are put into age-appropriate curriculums, beginning with infants and all the way through 12 years. Also neat is that since the culture of Clif Bar is adventurous and outdoorsy, the child care facility has an outdoor playground and an indoor exercise area that even has child-size stationary bikes. Besides offering child care, Clif Bar also offers a nice list of benefits that clearly have parents in mind, including a flexible work week, something that working parents covet. This makes it easier to schedule appointments or to just spend time with your family. I feel like if more companies offered this as well, life could be a little less stressful and employees could be a little bit happier.
So there it is. Three companies that are working to make life better for their employees, particularly working parents, particularly working moms. It’s not impossible; it’s a matter of committing to making child care work. Hopefully we see this become more and more normalized in the corporate world. And remember, if your company doesn’t offer child care, it’s totally okay to meet with HR and #askforit. #Childcareeverywhere. Let’s make this a reality.