Businesses that help integrate the outside personal life of the worker with his or her inside organizational life are "aligned companies" according to Jim Harris, PhD, and Joan Brannick, PhD, authors of Finding and Keeping Great Employees (AMA Publications, 1999). They write: "Progressive, aligned companies understand that retention of great employees significantly hinges upon their ability to allow employees to regain a sense of control over both their work and personal lives."
And nothing fires that need for control more than concern for the well-being of one's children. With 65% of American mothers with children under age six working outside the home according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, nationwide concerns about the quality and availability of daycare are on the rise. According to a recent survey by the Children's Defense Fund, 70% of parents with children under age six say it is extremely difficult to find affordable, quality daycare.
Dick Pilsner of D&S Dental Laboratory, Inc. isn't the only member of our community to recognize and address this need. Bruce Bonafiglia, CDT, owner of 75-person BonaDent Dental Laboratories, Auburn, New York, is currently breaking ground on a new laboratory facility that will include a 2,500 sq. ft. daycare center.
"I just think it's going to make our laboratory a better place to work," says Bonafiglia. "We're hoping parents can spend time with their kids during breaks or lunch." Daughter Danielle, a recent graduate of Columbia University with a degree in child psychology, is in charge of developing the program for the daycare center. In preparation, she has visited local businesses with on-site daycare facilities and accompanied her father on a recent visit to Pilsner's laboratory and daycare center. Says Danielle, "Work-family initiatives such as this are crucial to improving our working environment."
BonaDent's daycare center, expected to open in January 2000, will serve up to 34 infants and preschoolers, with room for an additional 10 children on an after-school basis. Employees' children will have the first option on the center's services.
Like the Bonafiglias, Doug Carlson, owner of 58-person Webster Dental Laboratory in Maplewood, Minnesota, heard Pilsner's presentation on How to Keep Good Employees at a recent LMT Live! seminar. He was glad to learn that his lab has already implemented many of the personnel strategies mentioned in the seminar, but the program got him thinking about the possibility of including a daycare center as part of an addition he wants to make to his laboratory.
"Dick's daycare center sounds very successful," says Carlson, "and I was impressed with the fact that he just got three new employees because of it. It's increasingly difficult to find employees; if you can offer a benefit like on-site daycare, that gives you a better chance of attracting them."
But the advantage is not just in improving your hiring chances. According to Burton T. Beam, Jr. and John J. McFadden, authors of Employee Benefits (Dearborn Financial Publishing, 5th edition, 1997), "Firms that offer dependant care assistance plans generally feel that such plans alleviate absenteeism, tardiness, turnover and time taken as family leave."
Despite the competitive pressure to produce high quality work in greater quantities-and because of it-today's savvy employers recognize that they have a real professional interest in their employees' quality of life. For businesses that cannot offer the exceptional benefit of on-site daycare, or other formal dependant care assistance plans, Beam and McFadden point out that there are other ways in which employers can respond to employee needs to care for family members. These include flexible work schedules, part-time employment, job sharing, flexible spending accounts, salary reduction options and family leave policies that are more liberal than those required of larger businesses by federal and state laws.