More than 70,000 child care providers may shut their doors in the coming months, as funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act has expired. Day care owners cite burnout and low wages as reasons they cannot retain workers. As the pressure to find child care mounts, working parents are seeing fewer options.
To help with the burden of child care, some employers—particularly smaller ones—are now offering the opportunity for parents to bring their babies to work.
"We wholeheartedly support parents bringing their babies to work," said PetMeTwice founder Mollie Newton, who oversees a team of 15 in Austin, Texas. "Post-pandemic, we recognized the emotional and logistical challenges many parents faced. This initiative not only promotes work/life balance but also strengthens our close-knit community."
At Events Ticket Center, a company in Gainesville, Fla., with 21 employees, working parents are allowed to bring their babies to work because "a workplace that accommodates the needs of working parents contributes to higher job satisfaction and employee retention," said CEO Adam Young. "It's not just about being family-friendly; it's about being an employer of choice that values work/life balance and understands the evolving needs of our workforce. We're proud to support our employees as they navigate both their professional and personal lives."
Eugene Klimaszewski, president of Mammoth Security in Pittsburgh—which has 30 employees—echoed a similar sentiment.
"The post-pandemic world revealed the challenges parents face juggling work and child care," he said. "We believe in fostering a supportive environment where parents don't have to choose between their career and their little ones."
Interested in a similar program at your company? Discover how employers are structuring their "bring your baby to work" programs, as well as the benefits they've experienced from them.
What the Programs Look Like
Optima Office, a company in San Diego with 92 employees, allows parents to bring their babies to work and sit with them in extra cubicles or empty conference rooms for the day.
"We only ask that the child isn't disruptive or causes others to lose focus," said CEO Jennifer Barnes. "The parent needs to be watching them and ensure they are not getting into trouble such as sticking fingers in sockets or pulling the blinds down."
While there are no carers onsite, hiring one is not out of the question for Barnes, who has a one-year-old son she brings to work.
"If a few of us were going to have our babies in the office, we would hire a nanny for the day," she said. "I'm certainly not opposed to that if it was needed, and I feel more companies should spend the money to have a nanny or two in the office to help the parents meet in person with their colleagues and focus on their work."
PetMeTwice's program is like the one at Optima Office; parents are offered a designated quiet room for feeding and nap times.
"Beyond that, we offer flexible working hours and the option to work from home certain days," Newton said. "We also have onsite child care for those unexpected school closures or sick days."
Mammoth Security has baby-friendly and quiet zones as well.
"The pandemic has shifted work dynamics globally," Klimaszewski said. "We aspire
to lead with empathy, believing that when employees are supported in personal challenges, they shine professionally."
Events Ticket Center gives parents a space that won't be disruptive to colleagues and provides parents the choice to log in from home when needed.
"In addition to the baby-friendly program, we offer flexible work hours, remote work options and access to parenting resources, such as counseling and educational seminars," Young said. "We understand that working parents have unique needs, and our aim is to provide a holistic support system."
The Benefits of Bring Your Baby to Work
Barnes has seen that because of her company's flexible policies, workers are likely to stay loyal—and stay with the company for a longer period of time.
"[We have] high retention," she said. "People know we value them and go out of our way to accommodate them. We are a kind, caring and flexible company."
Newton has experienced similar results.
"We've seen improved morale [and] reduced absenteeism," she said. "And, quite frankly, the joy a baby brings is priceless."
Since his company is so family-friendly, Young has seen that his employees stay on the job longer. Plus, they're happier.
"We believe that a workplace that accommodates the needs of working parents
contributes to higher job satisfaction and employee retention," he said. "This post-pandemic initiative is essential for us because it fosters a family-friendly work environment and supports the well-being of our employees. It also helps new parents balance their professional and parenting responsibilities during a critical time."
Because Optima Office cares about its employees and wants them to succeed, they allow parents to bring in their older children, too.
"We are fine with a child sitting there and doing homework or playing on an iPad," Barnes said.
These policies are part of their culture, which aims to satisfy employees and ensure they are able to thrive.
"Putting your employees first and showing them how much you care about them is important," Barnes said. "The more people feel valued and cared for, the longer they will stay with you. If you can make some easy concessions and allow for some flexibility with their schedules or their child care, you will create more loyalty, and people will work harder for you."
Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.