Employers’ ability to attract workers hindered by inadequate childcare options

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report examines what employers can do to ease the childcare burden for workers, and how a lack of childcare creates a drag on the overall economy.

According to an employer roadmap from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Childcare Solutions for Working Parents, 62% of employers cited childcare as a factor for why they’re seeing employees leave the workforce. One in 3 businesses have also said that problems with childcare factored “a great deal” into loss of employee productivity.

The roadmap follows other research from the U.S Chamber Foundation that assessing how a lack of options for childcare is hurting employers’ ability to recruit and keep skilled workers. 

According to the Foundation, in Arizona the childcare crisis accounts for an estimated $1.77 billion loss every year for the state’s economy.

Employers carry most of the burden of the loss, with absences ($829M) and employee turnover ($594M) resulting in a combined $1.4 billion every year for Arizona employers. Families are also burdened with childcare costs, paying an average of $581 a month, though these costs can vary dramatically.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry compiled a summary of this research to show the challenges that employers face in addressing the childcare crisis.

The summary also highlights solutions for employers cited by the U.S. Chamber roadmap. Parents mostly want more options from employers to work from home and to have more flexible working days and hours.

Because of the costs that they are already seeing, 66% of employers have expressed willingness to increase their support for childcare. The roadmap offers several options for employers who are seeking to diversify their workforce.

Besides flexible scheduling, employers can also consider providing backup care when parents run into unforeseen, last-minute changes to their childcare arrangements. The roadmap encourages employers to understand how these changes can impact productivity and to identify potential partners to assist with back-up.

The roadmap also advises employers that local childcare providers may have limited availability,but they often have more flexibility compared to larger providers.

Other options for employers include providing vouchers or subsidized slots that allow employers to reserve or prioritize capacity in nearby childcare programs for their employees. 

Another option for employers is to provide on-site care. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, on-site childcare has had mixed results for employers and it is not always popular with parents. When plastic-film maker i2M considered investing in it, many production workers preferred options closer to home or to family and friends that could help with pick-up.

However, Myriah Sweeney, group manager for people and property services at Toyota, says that while it cost the company nearly $15 million to build an on-site childcare center for 140 children, the investment proved to be a valuable recruiting tool.

The U.S. Chamber roadmap offers step-by-step guides on how to make childcare support decisions and resources on how to find partners to work with. The Arizona Chamber of summary concludes by noting that employers see more wide-ranging and positive business outcomes when they invest in childcare.

Craig Ruiz

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