Bring Your Child to Work Policy: A Financial Boon or Bust?

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First, there came Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day. Then came the recession, and with it, the need to convince parents to come back from maternity and paternity leave a bit earlier. Now, for a variety of reasons, many companies are encouraging workers to bring their kids to work every day. Is this good for the company and employees — or just a distraction?

According to Deseret News, over 180 U.S. companies currently allow employees to bring their children to work. Most of them are babies, or school-aged children who pop into the office after school.

“The toddler age is really tough,” said Carla Moquin, president of the Parenting in the Workplace Institute in an interview in Businessweek. “Once they’re mobile, there are safety issues and liability — and it’s harder on the parents.”

But for parents whose kids are younger than toddler aged, bringing their children to work can be a tremendous boon. And the companies who allow them to do so gain a lot in good will — and might just maintain a healthier bottom line.

Pros:

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1. Shorter maternity leaves: Want to drive yourself crazy? Look for a daycare center that accepts kids under the age of three months. Even if your workers are dying to get back to adult company (and their jobs) they’ll be hard-pressed to return to work in less time, if only because of child care issues. Letting them bring the little ones can make this easier.

2. Employee retention: If your employees have to make a choice between substandard (or pricey) child care and staying home, you might wind up losing some of your best workers. Allowing them to bring their children to the office solves this dilemma. Not to mention, your staff is more likely to feel loyal to an employer that provides such a generous benefit.

3. It could save you money: Hiring temporary staff or losing your best workers isn’t cheap. In addition to recruiting and hiring replacements, you’ll also lose the institutional knowledge that an experienced worker provides.

Cons:

1. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Babies don’t care about meetings or deadlines, and they don’t care about anyone else’s need for peace and quiet. If you do allow your staff to bring in their wee ones, make sure they won’t be sitting out in the middle of an open plan office where the rest of the crew will have to listen to every little peep and cry.

2. Possible resentment. Child-free folks are always ready to assume that parents are somehow cheating the system. Providing another benefit might exacerbate existing tensions.

3. You’ll need to plan ahead. If you offer this benefit to mothers, you need to offer it to fathers, as well. Also, the policy should extend, of course, to adoptive parents. And, as the Businessweek article points out, you’ll want to provide a separate room for parents to use when their babies need to vent their tiny frustrations.

Images: lrargerich/Flickr, Tom & Katrien/Flickr, Tom & Katrien/Flickr

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