As of 2015, America’s workforce was made up of 53.2% men and 46.8% women, and over the past 20 years, this 7-10% gap in genders represented in the workforce has remained fairly consistent. There has been a lot of research done as to why this gap between involvement exists, part of it is due to there being less women in the manual labor, science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, while another aspect is the ever so present gender pay gap. The causation of the gap in gender in the workforce is multi-dimensional though, often the focus of the conversation is set on identifying the barriers to entry when the other half of the conversation should be looking at retention rates.
Women, more than men, will adjust their careers for their families. As of a 2013 survey mothers spent an average of 14 hours a week on housework and 11 hours a week involved with childcare, while fathers spent 9 hours and 7 hours, respectively. Because of this difference in involvement, statistics show that 27% of mothers have quit their job in order to take care of a child or family member, while only 10% of fathers have done the same. In a similar role, 42% of mothers and only 28% of fathers have reduced work hours in order to take care of family. Providing a daycare facility at the office would not only help to alleviate some of the differences in percentages, but it would also serve the company well as far as long term investment in their workforce goes. In an article by the Wall Street Journal the case is made that by investing in day care at the office, companies can expect “increase employee engagement and low staff turnover.” What’s more, is that they can encourage women to stay in the work force.
Companies like Clif Bar & Co., Patagonia Inc., and Home Depot have already begun to invest in on-site daycare. While the programs can be costly to run, most expenses are recovered in the long run due to the lower employee turnover rates. Patagonia Inc. estimates that 25% of those with children in their program have been less likely to leave the company than those who do not, and on top of that they have maintained 100% of mothers returning from maternity leave over the same period. In addition, at Clif Bar & Co. 98% of parent employees attributed their long term commitment to the firm to the fact that there was an onsite child-care facility available for them to use.
Firms such as these, as well as those implementing more flexible work options, are coming up in a competitive advantage. Higher retention rates of employees means less time and resources spent training new hires, increased attention and quality provided to the work, and because of tax credits on the day care facilities will enable firms to recover their costs annually. A company’s future starts with their workforce, so the investment in employee performance is one well worth looking into.