They say that having a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences in the world – especially if you are a first-time parent.
Spending quality time with your new bundle of job and taking in what it truly means to have family time is so special. And with legislation that support the equal rights for parents to spend time away from work (such as Shared Parental Leave Guidance) in place, it’s becoming easier for both parents to get the precious time are home with their baby that they crave.
At some point, reality has to hit and it’s time to return to work. Most people would rather not trade their days full of new experiences with their mini-mes for life behind a desk, but life demands it. Though, that doesn’t make it any easier.
Of course, there’s also the other end of the string. Some parents (as much as they love being parents) want and need to get back to work – whether it be to regain some normalcy or just have some ‘me-time’ back in their routine.
Then there’s the argument of how much returning to work will cost you. It’s estimated that, on average, child care placement for a two-year-old cost around £127 per week for just 25 hours – or £242 for 50 hours. That is a lot of money. For some, that’s more than they would be earning at work. At that point, some parents need to face the possibility that maybe going back to work, at least not full time, isn’t in the cards. While others might look for more creating ways of making money such as starting up their own business ventures or working from home.
Is Child Care at Work the Way Forward?
Whatever is going through the mind of a new parent, you can bet your bottom dollar that they feel anxious and sad about leaving their child to pursue work. What if they miss me? What if they get sick? Or scared? What if the minder doesn’t give them enough attention? All completely normal questions to be asking – and all the more heightened by the idea of being minutes, hours or even miles away from their child if they’re needed.
It’s natural that these thoughts and feelings of anxiety will impact on someone’s performance at work. If they’re thinking about being at home with their child, their focus isn’t completely on their work, opening them up to make mistakes or have a drop in productivity.
That’s why some employers have opened up their own on-site child care programmes.
The Pros and Cons of Child Care at Work
As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to offering on-site child care to your employees, so let’s take a look and the arguments for and against to really get down to whether this notion is a good one.
Improves productivity – A survey on a provider of employer-sponsored child care found that 90% of parents using full service, on-site child care reported an increase in concentration and productivity on the job. An employee’s attention is on work and not elsewhere.
Helps retain and attract employees – The same survey found that 23% of parents turned down a job offer or refrained from pursuing other employment options due to the benefit of having on-site child care. In addition, 90% of new parents stated that on-site child care was a deciding factor in returning to work.
Convenient – Finding quality child care can be very difficult, so a workplace option offers parents a chance to meet their personal needs, check on their children throughout the day and work with less separation anxiety. In addition, it allows parents to commute to work with their children and spend lunch and break time together if they choose. This minimises their time spent apart.
Creates good morale – When an employer offers child care, it shows employees that they are valuable enough to deserve the convenience of having an on-site babysitter. Employees feel valued, appreciated and, most importantly, motivated.
Offers emotional security – Parents who are able to check in on their child during a lunch break or when the workload allows report less separation anxiety. In addition, their child is cared for by someone who is associated with the parent’s company.
High cost to the business – A common concern is the high cost associated with operating a full-service centre on-site. Furniture, rent, insurance, materials and staffing costs can be overwhelming, but the rewards of productivity are just as real.
Liability – The liability on the business in case something happens to a child can be devastating.
Distracted parent – For some, having a child so close could be distracting. A parent’s frequent visits can have the opposite effect and actually end up impacting negatively on work productivity as well as hurt a child’s opportunity to establish relationships with friends.
While the costs and liability can be discouraging, the benefit to the business can be very significant. With policies and procedures in place, the opportunity this benefit provides can be very rewarding to everyone involved including the parents, child and business owner.
Taking into account all the pros and cons, it’s clear that children in the workplace can add energy and cheer. Which, if managed properly, can have a real positive impact on the entire team and business.
It is a busy world we live in. The workplace will need to get in the frame of mind to help their employees raise their families instead of putting roadblocks in their way. Child care matters to people’s lives in a way few other perks do. This is not just the right thing, it’s the smart thing.