Patagonia’s on-site childcare means 100% of moms return to work
With so many parents struggling with work-life balance, it’s refreshing to hear that some companies are catching on to how crucial it is to support those trying to juggle family and career. Patagonia is one such company, boasting an impressive array of benefits for employees with kids, and it’s clear that it works. Because over the last five years, they’ve retained as employees 100% of women who’ve had children.
We don’t need to tell you how incredible that is.
An essay on Quartz points out that this statistic is rare in a time where so many mothers decide to stay home because of how inflexible their jobs are when it comes to being a parent. Or, the cost of childcare makes it not worth it to return to work. The average for the United States is only 79% of women going back to their jobs after having a baby.
Patagonia, purveyor of gorgeous outdoor gear, is obviously a stand-out with its 32-year corporate experiment of providing major benefits for their employees who have kids. And there are a number of reasons for their success.
The company provides 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave for birth mothers with fathers and adoptive mothers getting 12 weeks. The paid leave kicks in nine months after the first day of employment, so if a woman becomes pregnant on the first day of work, she is afforded those benefits.
Patagonia’s generosity toward parents doesn’t stop with paid leave, though that alone is practically unheard of. While some tech companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix offer similar benefits for family leave, they don’t have the wide-ranging perks Patagonia provides for parents to make their work-home juggle a lot easier.
They have on-site childcare run by teachers, some of whom are bi-lingual and trained in child development. Parents can eat lunch with their kids in the middle of the work day and sit with them in the facility’s garden, picking vegetables or just hanging out. The company also provides busing for school-aged kids to bring them to the company’s headquarters to see their parents after school.
Mothers are able to nurse their children during the day, even during meetings if necessary. That’s a huge upgrade to pumping in an office, and when you consider that the process takes about the same amount of time, it’s a no-brainer to allow it.
Parents can also take their child and either their partner or a nanny with them if they have to travel for work, with Patagonia footing the bill, which is amazing. Any mother who’s had to drag a breast pump and milk bottles through an airport while also being away from their infant knows what a gift that is.
The childcare isn’t free to parents, with the company recouping 91% of the cost of running the facility through tuition fees, tax breaks and “the value of retention,” which means it costs more to train a new employee rather than please a fully-trained existing one, meaning it only accounts for .005% of their yearly costs.
.005% is not a lot when it means employees are happy, productive and feeling good about their abilities as both worker and parent. So the question is, why aren’t more companies catching on? The likely answer is because no one is requiring them to do so, and most probably have no idea how much it could help in the way of retaining quality employees and making them more productive in the process.
Quartz points out that Patagonia is not a “typical” company with its left-leaning, “be kind” vibe, but why shouldn’t it be typical? The employees are happy and able to parent. The cost to the company is minimal. Why wouldn’t other employers want to follow suit?
The fact is, America really sucks at taking care of its families, and it all starts with solid leave policies and flexibility for parents once they return to work. Our country needs to understand that leaving moms and dads struggling helps literally no one — companies suffer because they lose good employees, and families suffer due to loss of income if one parent stops working to stay at home.
It’s time we make families a priority and recognize that benefits like those offered at Patagonia would go a long way toward bettering society by letting parents have more access to their children and less stress about being away from them.
And it’s important to note that in this election, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who will be sure to make families a priority. Our vote is the only way we can try to make this happen. So let’s use it.