I suspect that provision of childcare facilities within workplaces is going to be a growth area for the next few years. Whether both partners want to have fulfilling careers or not, dual income families are going to be an economic necessity for the majority of families in perpetuity, so any employer who can offer the additional piece of mind of an onsite crèche is going to be more attractive in the market.
In recessionary times, the pendulum has swung firmly back to the employer’s side and they can call the shots during the selection process, but abusing that power is a fool’s game because job-hunters will smile insincerely, bow their heads and take whatever is on offer and start looking for a new job the second they arrive onsite with what they perceive to be an unreasonable or unaccommodating employer. You want the best people to come and work for you and, more to the point, to stay with you in these difficult times?
Look. After. Them!
I don’t hear the, “We’re really more like a big family here at Widgets Inc.” line so often these days; but it never fails to make me barf. The gulf between word and deed on that topic would be laughable were it not so unfunny. This doesn’t have to cost employers money. I’ve seen large companies ‘leasing out’ their HR expertise to smaller firms in the vicinity, so that Human Resources Department isn’t just an expense line any more, it’s a revenue-generator. Surely the same could be accomplished with an intelligently-run, onsite crèche facility?
From the employer perspective, this is fundamentally a productivity issue. Neuroscience has now demonstrated that multitasking or distraction has a significantly adverse effect on productivity. If a parent is worried about their child, worried about leaving in time to beat the traffic or whatever, they cannot be focused on the task at hand. They just can’t. As our economic reality now demands dual incomes for the majority of households, it behoves large corporates to conduct some research on this. Canteens are provided in large businesses because it is the most efficient solution to the productivity-draining issue of feeding large numbers of staff quickly and efficiently. Those employers are satisfying their staff’s biological needs in a way that has the most benefit for that employer’s productivity needs.
Now, I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to you, but reproduction is one of those biological imperatives. Large numbers of your employees are going to reproduce. It’s a simple reality in the workplace and if you don’t help your employees out in some way, they are going to get more distracted than they need to be and you are going to feel that pain. Alternatively, you may never gain the benefit of these bright young things, as they will seek to work with an employer who is more cognisant of their needs and who provides peace of mind to staff with young children.
The millhouse and workers’ cottages at Rathfarnham, Dublin
Mines, mills, factories and breweries built houses for their workers because it made economic sense. Large companies provide canteen facilities because it makes economic sense. I’d like to see some creativity in this area – perhaps something tied in with the local Chamber of Commerce? Childcare for the younger age group is massively expensive, but there have to be economies of scale that can be brought to bear on this with a bit of original thinking and some collective procurement. What do you think?