Child Care Benefits and Employee Retention

When working parents struggle with work-life issues, it affects employers as well. Most working parents now make their career decisions based on the child care benefits they can get. So, just how expensive is child care? Even though several factors affect the cost, reports in The Guardian show that child care cost in 2020 might hit $223 per day in big cities like Sydney. This has made companies realize that the only way to recruit and retain talent is to incorporate family-friendly benefits. Child care benefits are more of an investment than an expense since it lowers turnover rates, raises morale, and avoids employee absenteeism due to childcare. So, what are some of the child care options for working parents?

1. Flexibility

One of the simplest strategies for employers to support working parents and childcare is flexibility. It can be achieved in many ways, including a flexible work arrangement, remote working, predictable work schedules, and job-sharing. Parents need time to fulfill their parental responsibilities like attending school conferences and their kid's games, going to doctor's appointments, as well as dropping off and picking up their kids from school. Flexibility makes working parents less worried about their children's safety, which improves their ability to focus at the workplace.

2. Flexible Spending Accounts

Employees can set aside money tax-free to cater for child care through flexible spending accounts. Employers determine the minimum and maximum amounts their employees can contribute. Companies should also take the time to educate their employees on how to use these accounts and maximize savings. For instance, conveying the fact that it's important for them to keep receipts as some expenses may require follow-up verification. Employers should also offer guidance on budgeting for child care expenses, and the costs of child care, among other topics.

3. Backup Child Care Assistance

The need to find last-minute backup care is bound to happen for working parents. It could be their child is sick, the school is closed for bad weather, or maybe their regular child care situation is unavailable. The company must offer some kind of last-minute assistance to avoid employee absenteeism due to child care. Backup care can be provided through in-home options or reserving places in nearby child care centers. In-home care means the employer works with a third-party company to send nannies or babysitters to employees' homes in case they are in need of some last-minute assistance.

4. Create an Affinity Group

There's an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Working parents can find their village among colleagues. Employers should create affinity/support groups for working parents. For instance, new moms can help each other get back to the work environment, while dads can use support groups to connect with each other. Affinity groups are a great way for employees to find moral support, share information, and even find child care recommendations and connections.

5. On-site Child Care Centre

Finding quality, affordable child care options for working parents can be a bit challenging. So, companies should consider offering on-site child care for employees if they want to appeal to working parents. These centers can incorporate physical activity facilities, such as educational play equipment, to encourage learning and physical activity among the children. This option is often more affordable. Additionally, having kids nearby gives parents a piece of mind during working hours, which improves focus at workplaces. With this in mind, it's important for employers to investigate any legal issues surrounding the subject before making a commitment.

6. Paid Leave

Eligible employees are guaranteed 18 weeks of unpaid leave; however, modern working parents need more than that. While maternity leaves are common benefits for new moms, paternity leave is increasingly gaining popularity; after all, new dads also need time to bond with the new family members.

7. Ensure Equality of Opportunities

Despite efforts to create a suitable work-life balance, most working parents feel that it's difficult to develop a career or progress at their workplaces after having children. Just because working parents need flexible schedules doesn't mean they shouldn't be considered for senior positions. This can be solved through job-sharing or remote working.

Child care is quite costly, which makes it important for employers to look for ways to support working parents; after all, happy employees are more engaged, loyal, and more productive. This helps with recruiting talent, lowers turnover rates, and increases production. This is enough financial incentive for employers to not only inform but also to encourage the use of family-friendly benefits.