Benefits and Compensation, Recruiting

How To Create Flexible Childcare Benefits for Employees

As you interview new candidates to fill open roles, what makes your organization stand out from the crowd? What about when you’re focusing on retaining your current employees? Or simply trying to boost morale?

childcare benefits

In a competitive labor market, finding the right talent is a challenge — everyone is looking for an edge in their hiring and retention efforts. But there are multiple ways to approach the process of tackling a labor shortage and retaining your best employees.

One of the most effective methods is by offering childcare benefits for employees. Whether you’re running a small local business, mid-sized company, or large enterprise corporation, providing an employer-sponsored childcare benefits program can be the difference your organization needs to get (and stay) ahead.

Why Are Employee Childcare Benefits Necessary?

Childcare benefits for employees are needed because:

  • For most working families, childcare is unaffordable.
  • Absenteeism and retention challenges are significant pain points for employers.
  • Working parents simply can’t be as productive without suitable childcare in place.
  • Childcare benefits encourage more women to return to the workforce.

Without a comprehensive childcare benefits program, working families rely on patchwork solutions to try to find affordable childcare that fits their busy schedules. When reliable childcare is not found, some parents and guardians have little choice but to leave their jobs to care for their kids.

If employers do not provide childcare benefits, they are managing a workforce that is not as productive, absent more often, and less satisfied. Employees may also have a wandering eye for an organization with a better care benefits package that includes childcare. In other words, by sticking with the status quo, companies risk losing more money in the long run.

With the knowledge that childcare benefits are important, how can you set up an impactful childcare benefits program for your employees?

Childcare can be a fairly complex issue and there are many benefit options available, however, incorporating employee childcare benefits is actually easier than you may expect.

How to Get Started Offering Childcare Benefits

The first step is to identify where your employees are located and where care is going to be needed. If you manage a remote workforce, it’s recommended that you use a neighborhood-based childcare approach to provide coverage in a variety of locations.

It’s important to remember that for many employees, finding childcare solutions close to home will be preferred. This means that neighborhood-specific care is likely a great option for employers to consider for their teams.

Finding the Right Childcare for Your Employees

After determining the location and care setting, your next step is to find a benefits program featuring comprehensive, flexible care. This is crucial because your working families have many different needs — the benefit offerings should cater to them!

Take traditional childcare centers, for example. In most cases, centers are open during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is inconvenient for many families and doesn’t fit the hours of most working parents. Even for employees with fairly traditional hours, these limited hours are restrictive and inflexible. As for employees who work overnight shifts or second jobs? Typical childcare center hours simply do not address their childcare needs.

Conversely, a childcare network that includes home daycare providers, nannies, and babysitters provides expanded hours and more inherent flexibility than the childcare center model.

Selecting a childcare benefits program with several customizable options will be the most impactful way to support your workforce.

As you implement employee childcare benefits, the best practice is to offer care options that parents want and will actually use.

What Are Your Childcare Benefits Options as an Employer?

Establishing what kind of support you want to start offering your employees is your next step.

Some of the most common and practical care benefits you can provide include:

  • Childcare assistance: This central program assists employees in finding and accessing quality, affordable childcare that fits their families’ unique needs. It often involves a dedicated care manager who helps employees set up tours, interview caregivers, complete enrollment and get started with care —  as well as facilitate ongoing support during care.
  • Backup care: An increasingly necessary offering, backup care provides families with reliable drop-in care for emergencies and last-minute scheduling conflicts. For employees who already have a regular childcare plan worked out, backup care can be a game changer so they can still go to work when their child or primary caregiver is sick or unavailable.
  • Childcare stipend/subsidy: This option builds on childcare assistance and features stipend programs that pay for a portion or the entirety of an employee’s childcare expenses. Tuition support programs are flexible and can be customized to best fit the needs of your working parents.
  • Babysitters: The flexibility, affordability, and in-home care that babysitters provide is an ideal childcare solution for many families.
  • Nannies: Similar to babysitters, nannies are in high demand and can be a game-changer for working parents searching for in-home care for their kids.
  • Tutors: For some families with school-age children, childcare needs may not be the same as those with little ones. A tutor who can help their kids with schoolwork might be exactly what these parents need.

You can always adjust as needed in the future, regardless of which childcare benefits you opt for. Remember that your employees will appreciate the additional support that any childcare benefits program brings to their lives.

Time to Launch Those New Childcare Benefits!

Now that you have landed on the best possible childcare benefits program for your working families, it’s time to schedule the big launch. Even the most well-constructed employee childcare benefits must be communicated and rolled out properly to maximize their effectiveness.

When announcing your new childcare benefits program, all employees should receive detailed information to help them clearly understand what the benefits are, where available features can be accessed, and how to utilize them. Some of your team members with childcare needs may be quite excited about trying out their new benefits right away!

As you evaluate your benefit options to attract and retain talent in an economic environment with significant labor shortages and employee churn, adding employer-sponsored childcare benefits can help you stand out and win over working parents who need more support.

Jessica Chang is the CEO and Co-Founder of WeeCare. WeeCare was founded in 2017 and has become a leader in childcare technology and employee childcare benefits spaces, building the largest network of childcare providers in the United States. The company is making strides in solving the childcare crisis by providing employers and families access to affordable, high-quality childcare while supporting childcare providers in operating sustainable businesses through a technology-based marketplace.

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