We believe that if we take care of our customers and associates, the rest will take care of itself. Childcare benefits should be seen as an investment in your workforce and bottom line, not a cost.
lost when employees leave for better benefits
For parents, limited childcare options and high costs often force them to leave the workforce prematurely or lead to increased absenteeism and turnover. Industry survey data suggests that employees who leave for better benefits cost their employers upward of 20% of their salary in hiring, training, and productivity losses.
When the leadership team was approached about childcare by a group of interested parents, The Home Depot benefits team believed they must look at the spectrum of care solutions. The inherent appeal of the idea was obvious, but the question was: Could some of the common roadblocks such as finding space, financing, and liability be overcome?
Companies that offer an array of childcare support services for their employees see decreased absenteeism and increased productivity and are better able to attract and retain talent. For example, studies have shown that when companies provide child care, employee absences decrease by up to 30% and job turnover declines by as much as 60%. It’s these types of returns that made creating a range of childcare support benefits a no-brainer for The Home Depot.
To meet a range of employee needs, The Home Depot created a suite of childcare support services, including on-site childcare, backup childcare, and dependent care through a partnership with Bright Horizons.
In the Beginning
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, The Home Depot employs more than 400,000 people nationwide. Since the beginning, the company has followed a simple premise from its founders: Put customers and associates first and the rest will take care of itself. Today, almost 40 years after the company began, this spirit remains alive and well, with corporate headquarters referred to as the “Store Support Center” (SSC) — meaning everything it does supports its retail locations and the associates working there.
Not only did the idea of providing a spectrum of care solutions follow the vision of the founders, but the leadership and benefits teams also saw this as a key to investing in the future of the company and as a mechanism to attract the very best and brightest talent.
Childcare benefits should be seen as an investment in your workforce and bottom line, not a cost.
Parent groups — either formal or informal — can be a great generator of ideas and are a way to make workers feel valued and, in turn, engender loyalty to the company. If you don’t already have a parent group, create one, or foster an existing one.
Designing the right solution requires leadership from the top as well as a cross functional team to get the job done.
Even if you move fast and are motivated, it can take time to get everything up and running. Be patient and stay committed.
Consider the needs of all employees — different solutions will be tailored to different employees. Employees like options.
From Idea to Delivery
CFO and Executive Vice President of Corporate Services Carol Tomé championed the effort and created a cross functional team led by the Benefits Department with participation from Finance, Tax, Legal, Building Services, IT, Security and more to bring the programs to life. In considering the implementation of the program, the team looked for a partner that could help provide the best options for the associates, both at the corporate office as well as in the nearly 2,000 U.S. retail locations.
The team decided to partner with Bright Horizons, a company that offers employer-sponsored childcare, early education, and work/life solutions. From concept to rollout, the process took about two years.
The Home Depot created a suite of childcare support service options to meet the range of employee needs.
On-Site Childcare. A childcare facility that offers 278 full-time spots for any of The Home Depot associates in the Atlanta area and is available to children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.
- There are an additional 48 spots for school-age children during summer and school breaks.
Backup Care. While the logistics of providing on-site childcare for all the retail stores proved to be unworkable, The Home Depot decided to offer eligible associates backup care when they need to be at work and their regular child or adult/elder care is unavailable.
- All associates who have been with the company at least one year have access to backup care. The care is available 24/7 and up to 10 days of care per calendar year.
- To maximize support for all kinds of caregiving needs and recognizing that nearly half of middle-age Americans are part of the sandwich generation (caring for children as well as for parents), use of these care programs can be for self, spouse, dependent children, parents, grandchildren, and grandparents.
Care Marketplace. Offer discounts for employees through Bright Horizons’ Care Direct program, a search engine designed to help find qualified dependent care.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA). The Home Depot offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), allowing associates to contribute a maximum of $5,000 per year for dependent care costs tax free.
Is this a repeatable model?
Absolutely. Even if companies cannot provide a full suite of these services, making this societal issue a priority is a great first step. Providing this type of support to the workforce of today and the workforce of tomorrow requires a commitment across all divisions of leadership in the organization as well as strong relationships with community partners.
The Bottom Line
Employee attraction and retention are daily concerns for companies. According to industry survey data, employees who leave for better benefits cost their employers upward of 20% of their salary in hiring, training, and productivity losses.
For The Home Depot, the high utilization rates of all their programs demonstrate their value to employees both in Atlanta and nationwide.