Childcare support: what can employers do to help working parents?

It makes a world of difference when employers offer some form of childcare support. We’ve rounded up a list of the best ways that you can support working parents to help you build a happy, engaged and stress-free team..

Benefits 101
Company Culture
Talent & Hiring

⋅ min read

We might be approaching the end of summer, but school holidays can be a year-round struggle for many parents. While it might mean ice cream and late bedtimes for children, for parents, it’s often a whole lot of stress about whether to take time off work or pay for expensive childcare. So it makes a world of difference when employers offer some form of childcare support. We’ve rounded up a list of the best ways that you, as a business, can support working parents to help you build a happy, engaged and stress-free workforce.

The problem with school holidays

It might not come as a surprise to learn that over a third of parents worry about their finances over the summer holidays. Juggling childcare, food, bills, transport and activities – all of which are rising in price thanks to inflation – doesn’t leave much room for any other costs. Particularly those unexpected costs we know we should save up for but often can’t afford to. 

For employers and people who don’t have children, here’s an idea of how much typical summer holiday activities cost:

  • A day trip to Legoland for a family of four: £172
  • Three hours at Splashdown for a parent and child: £49
  • Dinner at Pizza Express for two adults and a child: £60+

But it’s not just keeping the kids entertained that comes at a price. For many working parents, it’s the toss up between taking time off work (often unpaid, if you want to be there during the whole 6 weeks’ of summer holiday) or forking out for childcare. Given that the average price of holiday childcare in England last year was £148, it’s not an easy decision.

How to help working parents when it comes to childcare

As an employer, providing childcare support – no matter how much or little – is a great way to give back to hardworking, working parents. Particularly when the brunt of raising children often falls on women. The options range in terms of price, so take some time to figure out which works best for your situation and budget.

Workplace nursery schemes 

Employers can set up a workplace nursery scheme by providing on-site or local childcare facilities for their employees to use. You can set up a workplace nursery either directly or through a third-party provider. They’re usually open during office hours to align with normal working schedules, but you can choose to offer extra or out-of-hours care if you like.

Employees then pay for this childcare by exchanging a portion of their salary, whilst saving on tax. It’s one of the many types of salary sacrifice scheme out there. So parents can save thousands on national insurance and enjoy the peace of mind that their children are taken care of while they do their best work.

Thinking of setting up your own workplace nursery? We can help!‍ At Ben, we’ve partnered with leading workplace nursery scheme providers like YellowNest and Enjoy Benefits to help secure the best deal for you and your team.

“Ben’s workplace nursery scheme…has had a huge impact financially on my family, and I’m so grateful for that.” - Alicia Riley, People & Talent Lead at Ben

Flexible allowances

This is essentially a pot of money that working parents can use for childcare, babysitters, after school clubs… whatever helps them take childcare concerns off their plate. You might choose to give employees £2,000 each year to spend on whatever they like. Some might choose to spend it on gym memberships or extra holiday days, but working parents have the option to put their allowance towards the cost of childcare.

With Ben, you can create a custom employee benefits package for everyone at your company. Just choose from our growing marketplace of providers – from life insurance and childcare to food and drink discounts – and set flexible allowances for your employees to help them use their money wisely.

Flexible working options 

Remote working can be a huge help to working parents. Mckinsey found that, of more than 20 possible reasons given for leaving their job in the past six months, parents cited caring for family as a top five reason. And more money and annual leave isn’t enough to keep them. As an employer, now’s your chance to address the flexibility needs of your employees with children.

One of the benefits of working from home is that you don’t have to work to strict schedules. If you need to drop off for half an hour to pick the kids up from school, you’re free to do so and make up the time missed later on. Similarly, parents no longer have to waste time commuting. Brits spend an average of 59 minutes getting to and from work every day, which is quality time that parents might rather spend taking their children swimming or reading them a bedtime story. It pays to put people in charge of their own time-keeping.

Offering flexible working options is sure to be a winning strategy with any employee, but working parents in particular are likely to thank you for it.

Parenting apps

If you’re looking for a lower lift (and lower cost) way of providing childcare help to employees, why not pay for their subscriptions to parenting apps? Whether these offer tips for new parents, access to communities or online games to keep children entertained, apps can be invaluable for parents.

Peanut, for example, offers a safe space for women to support each other, from fertility and pregnancy all the way through to menopause. Hoop helps people find and book local activities for their children, and Bubble connects parents with nearby babysitters.

It’s a good idea to ask around at work to find out which aspect of family life people need the most help with. This can help you decide which apps are worth investing in, freeing up your employees’ time to enjoy their working hours without stressing about childcare.

Why offering childcare support is great for business

From employer branding to improved retention, there are endless reasons to consider providing childcare at your workplace. Once we become parents, our families are a priority, and many people will look for a job that fits around their life (rather than the other way around). So it’s in your best interests as an employer to cater to this.

When it comes to hiring, offering childcare support is a great way to attract the right talent. Research shows that when looking for a job, 80% of people would value a company who offers flexible working options, for example. Not to mention, childcare can be massively beneficial for retention. With 54% of working parents reporting feeling distracted at work due to childcare issues, it only makes sense to offer some form of childcare to help boost employees’ productivity and engagement levels.

It’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon, either. Tech company Cisco, for example, has an on-site nursery in the UK for children within the age ranges of 3 months to 5 years, meanwhile Vodafone allows new parents to work part-time on their full-time salaries.

Childcare has long been an issue for working parents, and that’s not changing any time soon. If you want to be an employer that’s recognised for being caring and supportive, fostering a happy and motivated workforce, offering childcare support is one way to do this. With the help of Ben, you can create a flexible benefits package that works for everyone, all year round, and give parents that extra leg up in the workplace.

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