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Affordable child care at work a popular perk to get employees back in the office

On-site day care growing in popularity at some companies
On-site day care growing in popularity at some companies 03:33

BOSTON - It's been challenging for companies to get employees back into the office after the pandemic, but on-site child care is becoming a popular way for businesses to attract and keep workers.

"Employees have never had a stronger voice in terms of what they expect from their employers, and the absolute number one challenge and issue that a working parent with a young child faces is access to high quality and affordable child care," Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer told WBZ-TV.

He said more and more companies are pitching in to help working parents.

"I think employers have woken up to the fact that this is an imperative. This is not just something that is nice to do, although it is really nice to do, it is an imperative for their business to be successful," Kramer said.  

He believes on-site day care is a growing perk that's mutually beneficial.  

"We certainly see it across our client base, that there is better ability to attract in hard to fill roles. We see that there is absolutely better retention of those who utilize the child care center and then the productivity, which also is really important to employers, is enriched," Kramer told WBZ.

Walmart, the largest U.S. employer, is one of the businesses offering the perk. The company is getting ready to open an on-site child care center for employees at its new Arkansas campus in May.

Tyson foods' new on-site day care opens at 5:30 a.m. so they can accommodate the 6 a.m. shift on the poultry processing line. 

Even Hormel, the makers of "Spam," have broken ground on a $5 million child care facility in Minnesota set to open this spring. 

All three companies are subsidizing their on-site centers, offering lower than market tuition rates for employees.   

"Employees expectations are shifting and what they want from their employer. The younger workforce, they want to have more flexibility in how work is done and when work is done. This is one aspect that gives our employees a lot of flexibility," Lisa Considine, Vice President of Human Resources at Boston Scientific, told WBZ.  

Considine says on-site day care is a big part of the culture at the biomedical engineering firm in Marlboro.

"It's a really important talent attraction piece. It's also really important for talent retention. If you don't have to worry about your day care person calling in sick and you have to go figure out what to do with your children. It absolutely reduces absences. It just takes the stress out of those types of challenging situations, which we've all been in," Considine said.  

Adriana Gonzalez is the Director of Global Supply Chain at Boston Scientific. She has worked there for 15 years and both of her daughters attended the on-site day care.  

"The peace of mind of being two minutes away from them is such a game-changer. Just the logistics in the morning. We're all getting in the same car and going to the same place, that just makes it a lot easier. It also really allowed us to bond a bit more. I could actually come feed her during my workday. That was a huge difference when they were little infants," Gonzalez explained.  

She believes the child care support she has received from the company helped her get to where she is in her career today.  

"I was in between meetings and I could just look out and I'm seeing my kid playing around, which was amazing. Peace of mind, it's the biggest thing to be actually productive in your job and being able to manage that balance," she explained.

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, only 5.7% of businesses offered on-site day care as a company benefit. Post-pandemic in 2023, that number is now 13.9% according to The Best Place for Working Parents.

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