During the pandemic, childcare providers have closed or limited capacity. Schools are virtual in many areas. This leaves a lot of employees with the severe challenge of juggling childcare and working from home. Or they may not be able to return to work because they are still trying to care for children. That’s why employer supported childcare is extremely important right now.
For employers, staffing issues have been arising. Poor publicity caused one university to backtrack from rules preventing employees from caring for children during their shift, but multitasking is not easy for parents. Issues that were already present before COVID-19 are only getting worse. Flexible work schedules and paid leave can help, but these may not be lasting solutions that help attract and retain talent.
One answer is for employers to start offering child care as a benefit.
What is Employer Supported Childcare?
Employer supported childcare refers to on-site or near-site child care provided by or paid for by employers. In some cases, this might work like gym memberships, where an employer works in partnership with a local provider.
In others, the employer themselves provides the space and staffing for childcare. Generally, this means for children up to the age of six, but some employers are temporarily offering options for school-age children too.
Other employers might provide a stipend to pay for childcare, but leave it to the employee to find the right solution to them, such as a center near their home or hiring a nanny or au pair.
The most expensive option is obviously on-site employee childcare. But one company temporarily managed to turn a conference room into a one-room schoolhouse that could hold 16 children, allowing kids to do virtual school while their parents worked.
There are other benefits employers might offer, including back-up childcare assistance (such as help only when schools are closed), childcare spending accounts, or even giving the most predictable schedules or shifts to parents.
Any childcare assistance must be offered equally to both women and men.
Why does this Matter?
COVID-19 has highlighted distance learning challenges, including how much working parents are forced to rely on schools not as providers of education, but as providers of childcare.
The rising cost of childcare itself has also been an issue; in some states, it costs more than college. This often reduces career opportunities for women, who are generally the ones who find it is cheaper to stay home than go to work and pay for childcare. As a result, offering employee childcare assistance can attract talent that might not otherwise consider your company. It also helps retain employees through the parenting part of their lives.
Offering childcare assistance can also trigger significant tax breaks and improve your company’s overall reputation. Today’s savvy consumers want to hear that the companies they buy from are treating their employees well, and the current heightened awareness of childcare concerns makes it all the more important to also help their families and children. Good childcare can also help with early childhood education and encourage children to grow up healthy.
Solutions such as converting meeting rooms into schoolhouses may be temporary, but greater support of working parents cannot be a bad thing for companies, employees, and the overall economy.
What is the Best Solution?
The best childcare solution for your company may depend on its size, how many people you have working from home, and the demographics. However, it’s becoming more and more important to offer some kind of employee childcare to assist working parents in the difficult task of juggling careers and parenting. At the very least, offering flexible and/or predictable schedules, putting limits on meeting times, and providing at least some help for backup childcare can help you attract and retain the talent you need to move your company forward.
If you are interested in exploring innovative childcare solutions to support the unique needs of your staff, please contact us at 855.565.VSHR (8747) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.