When an employer offers child care, workers know they are valued
Sabella, my daughter, was three and a half months old when I returned to work after maternity leave.
Only a working mother would know the agony of leaving behind her newborn for most of the day during the critical bondage period when the child needs constant care.
Two other female colleagues also have children of similar age, facing the same challenges as I was. Motherly disposition brought us together with a shared concern, and we immediately bonded.
We discussed if we could take the babies to work, but no university in the country had a child care system for working mothers, and North South University was no exception. How could we combine our working life with the need of the child’s welfare?
One of us discussed the matter with the authority, and got a sympathetic hearing. To our relief, the university allocated a room temporarily for keeping the babies during working hours.
Sabella’s life at the university started thus. We would bring the necessities, along with an attendant to babysit. Most heart-warming was how others at work reacted, which comforted us to no end.
We discovered that when it comes to certain universal basics, we were all bonded together with an invisible wire. The chores of our motherhood eased up with colleagues’ interest, fervour, and support. We were not alone.
Sabella goes to school now. I pick her up from school on my way back. Sometimes when I work late, I bring her to the university -- I work in my room, and she plays. Sometimes, she goes round to colleagues to have a chat.
Think about it. Being a nuclear family, I am raising my daughter with the support of the university. There were such cases when I had to attend meetings, and one of my colleagues would keep an eye on her if free to do so. Eventually, Sabella developed a stronger bond with the university than her own school.
The university plans to put through a project to establish child care, and we all want to put our best to make it happen. A questionnaire has already been distributed among all of us. NSU can put an excellent example for all universities by establishing a child care centre, and be at par with other good employers in and out of the country.
If child care is established, working parents and other administrative staff will be psychologically more settled while doing their work. As an employer, this would ultimately yield better productivity from employees.
Today’s working parents struggle to find convenient and reliable child care centres that assure safety and a good environment. A highly underrated solution, therefore, is offering child care at the parents’ workplace. When an employer provides on-site child care, attention does not drift from work.
As a result, employees work harder, become loyal to their workplace, and stay with their jobs, miss fewer work days, and brag about where they work, raising the employer’s profile.
Creating an office environment where family and work aren’t mutually exclusive should be where organizations lean towards, and where productivity flourishes to be the new work life balance.
After all, an institution’s most important assets are its people, who will move the organization forward through creativity and innovation. The fewer the distractions, the more engaged and productive they will be.
Parents who are able to check in on their child during a lunch break (or when the workload allows) tend to report less separation anxiety. When an employer offers child care, it shows employees that they are valued enough to deserve the convenience of a facility like on-site baby-sitting.
Employees feel cherished and appreciated, and most importantly, motivated.
Nasrin Pervin is currently working as a Senior Lecturer at the Department of English and Modern Languages, North South University. She is also a doctoral student of the University of Glasgow, Scotland.