Workforce Shortage Solutions: It’s Time to Treat Child Care as a Business Issue
22 Sep 2022
In a time of workforce shortages, offering child care is a way to distinguish your business. The coronavirus pandemic exposed the previously invisible and forgotten link between child care and the economy. It boils down to being the lifeline for women to stay employed. In 2020 alone, 2.5 million women chose to leave the workforce because they found it impossible to work while shouldering more of the childcare, remote learning, and household responsibilities.
According to Fortune, the women’s workforce participation rate has not recovered two years later. The Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report found that 275,000 more women left the workforce in January 2022, leaving women’s workplace participation rate at 57 percent, a record low unseen since 1988.
The pandemic has illustrated the indisputable need for child care regardless of whether parents work from home or in the office. Progressive employers are taking note of this because, plain and simple, childcare is not a family issue, it’s a business issue. It affects job performance and employee satisfaction.
According to the Harvard Business Review: “Employers that provide high-quality childcare will not only differentiate themselves from the competition but will also create a ‘sticky’ benefit that fosters retention. Employees are less likely to move to a new job if it also means moving their childcare from an environment they love and trust. It is up to businesses to think creatively about ways to build the childcare infrastructure we need to help working parents keep working for their families, and the economy as a whole.”
Working parents find great value in the continuity of care for their children. It allows them to be fully present at work and provides social and emotional benefits for their children because they have routines and stability.
The era of leveraging child care for workforce attraction and retention is here. Employers such as Podium and Recursion Pharmaceuticals in Utah are investing in onsite child care, realizing the more attractive they make their job site, the more employees will want to come to the office and the better the culture will be. Other large employers – like McDonald’s and PayPal – support employees with backup care services parents can lean on when their regular care falls through, including last-minute care, virtual tutoring for school-age children, babysitting services, and virtual camps.
Often, employers in smaller, rural areas collaborate to support daycare initiatives that serve not only their direct needs, but also the entire community. Support can range from subsidies to slot guarantees or other creative solutions that add financial stability for small operators.
One third of the U.S. workforce, or an estimated 50 million workers, has a child under 14 in their household. Data from Brookings shows that the United States’ gross domestic product could be 5 percent higher if women participated in the workforce at the same rate as men. When employers treat childcare with the same seriousness as health care and other aspects of business infrastructure, employees can get back to work in full force.
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