How childcare impacts the workforce

April 8, 2022 Christina DeBusk

A woman with dark hair sitting on the floor with three children on her lap

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many industries, childcare being one. Several childcare providers have shut their doors in the past couple of years, either because they don’t want to be exposed to the virus or they simply don’t have enough workers to continue to provide this valuable service.

Whatever the reason, this has had many impacts on today’s workforce.

Impact of childcare issues on the workforce today

A poll conducted by NPR reveals that more than one in three people with children are having a difficult time meeting their responsibilities at work and home. Results from a Pew Research survey add that this difficulty is only getting worse as the pandemic continues to linger on.

When parents can’t find childcare for their little ones, they are forced to either reduce their hours at work or give up their jobs completely—and the latter appears to be hitting women at greater levels.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that while male workers have regained jobs lost during the first two years of the pandemic, the workforce today has 1.8 million fewer women than in February 2020. Additionally, the number of women who have left the workforce due to childcare issues is higher among those of color and those with disabilities.

Removing women from the workforce means that your hiring pool is smaller. If you previously had a high number of women working for your company, it also likely left a huge gap in your ability to meet your performance or output goals.

Finding ways to resolve or ease this current trend can help you (and your workers with children) get back on track again.

Solving the childcare issue for your employees

One way to solve the ongoing childcare issue your employees face is to offer these services onsite. Hire a licensed childcare provider to come to your business and look after your employees’ children during their scheduled shifts.

To do this, you will need to check with your local regulatory agencies to learn what they require when setting up a childcare facility within your company. They might dictate the training or hiring requirements of the childcare workers, for instance. They may also have set guidelines as to how big the childcare area must be, how many kids can be in childcare at one time, the staff-to-child ratio and more.

If in-house childcare isn’t a viable option, you may consider contracting with a local childcare provider to offers services to your employees first. They might even agree to give your staff a discount depending on the type of deal that you work out.

At a minimum, your business can take steps to make it easier for your employees to handle their own childcare issues, such as by keeping their work schedules consistent. This enables them to predict when they’ll need someone to look after their children and set this up well in advance.

Flexible scheduling may also be an option, helping them work around their childcare needs while still getting the job done. If you employ both parents, it might be helpful to have them work on opposite shifts, ensuring that at least one of them is available at all times.

In cases where the cost of childcare is the issue, providing a subsidy or stipend to employees with children can help offset this expense. This prevents them from having to calculate whether it’s cheaper to just stay home than to go to work and pay someone to watch their children.

With a subsidy, they can return to work without worrying that their entire paycheck will go to childcare expenses, leaving little leftover for all of their other financial obligations.

Helping employees solve their childcare issues not only shows them that you care but also that you’re willing to take action to help ease their concerns.

Taking this step also establishes you as a company that others will want to work for, helping to reduce any potential worker shortage issues and making this a win-win situation.

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About the Author

Christina M. DeBusk creates small business content for a variety of publications, some of which include Businessing Magazine, Compendent, Chiropractic Economics, and more. She is also the author behind the column, "The Successful Solopreneur.

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