These Are the Accommodations Working Parents Want Most From Their Employers

UPDATED: February 29, 2024
PUBLISHED: February 29, 2024
Woman working from home with her son on her lap because her job has support for working parents in the workplace

Gone are the days of women hiding their pregnancies in job interviews or dads being secretive about the fact they have to be home for a 4 p.m. bus drop-off. Instead, supporting parents in the workplace is finally gaining traction as working parents are starting to demand more from potential employers when it comes to benefits, accommodations and perks around fertility, pregnancy and child care.

How employers can support working parents

In a recently released report from the Best Place for Working Parents, researchers reveal key trends across over 2,000 businesses that participated in the survey. The organization aims to improve family-friendly policies and reports that two-thirds of children under age 6 have both parents in the workforce.

“Most notable is that, overall, the report reaffirmed that family-friendly is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must-have’ for employers and their employees today,” Sadie Funk, national director of the Best Place for Working Parents explains. “[We] continue to lean in on flexibility and remote work, when possible, as they understand it provides great benefit to their employees, especially working parents. This is a key signal to companies that implementing these policies is of the utmost importance for attracting and retaining top talent in order to drive business growth.”

So, for businesses who have been putting off reform and progress in this area, now’s the time to pay attention and take the next steps. Here’s what the report revealed about how employers can support working parents.

On-site child care is gaining momentum

Sometimes a kid needs a parent to drop off medication or stop in for a behavioral concern. In a typical situation, this can mean taking a half or whole day off work to address a small issue. But with on-site child care, employees are able to pop in and out without disrupting an entire day of work, ultimately leading to improved productivity.

The report showed that the trend for companies to offer on-site child care will continue to grow, and there has already been a 47% increase since 2019. According to the report, businesses that offer on-site child care have a 7.4 times higher retention rate and improved loyalty in employees. 

New research released by the Fifth Trimester and Vivvi also revealed that nearly half of those considering leaving a job last year stayed because of an employer’s support of their caregiving role. Their research also shows immense payoff for companies investing in caregiving benefits—every dollar invested drove $18.93 in ROI, they concluded.

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“While still a relatively rare benefit, the implementation rate of on-site child care is growing faster than any other benefit,” Funk says. “Micro businesses are leading the pack in implementing on-site child care alongside their large-sized peers— highlighting that small and micro-sized businesses have the ability to innovate in this area.”

Megan Schulte, VP of human resources at Frontier Co-op in Norway, Iowa, says her company offers an on-site child care facility that is licensed for 110 children between ages 0 and 12 at their headquarters. 

“Because our program is subsidized by the company, on average, parents spend $2 per hour for childcare, or roughly $100 per week, and that includes healthy, organic and homemade meals for the children each day,” Schulte says, adding that Frontier Co-op offers summer camps for employees’ kids over breaks too. 

“We provide other supportive programs like on-site prescription pickup, as well as working with the local school district to serve as a pickup and drop-off location for kids before and after school. It’s our way of more fully living Frontier Co-op’s purpose—‘Doing Good, Works’—within our walls.”

Supporting parents in the workplace: Flexible work arrangements are here to stay

If an employer is still debating calling everyone back into an in-person 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work arrangement, they might be behind the times at this point. PR Newswire cited the same study from the Best Place for Working Parents, which states that 96% of the businesses that received a Best Place for Working Parents designation provide flexible work schedules, and 93% offer remote work. In turn, these businesses have employees who are  2.1 times more motivated and who have 2 times better health outcomes.

 A 2019 FlexJobs survey found that 31% of women who left the workforce after having kids would have rather stayed, but couldn’t because of a lack of flexibility. Funk calls our post-pandemic era in the workplace the “great shakeout,” as companies decide what worked and what didn’t, a conversation that often revolves around the question of flexible work.

Flexible work might mean different things to different companies, whether it’s the ability to pop in and out for lunch or errands or to leave early for a sick kid without fear of repercussions, provided the work is getting done.

Improved parental leave policies and child care support

The third biggest outcome of the report showed that parental leave policies and child care support are key differentiators in a competitive talent market. This includes backup child care, meaning subsidizing care for children when school is out or child care falls through, child care assistance such as Dependent Care FSA and parental leave policies for both parents as well as adoptive parents and those who have been through pregnancy or infant loss.

The report also breaks down industries, business types and regional trends. For example, they predict that industries most likely to improve maternity leave policies include safety/security/legal, motor vehicle and agriculture/forestry/wildfire.

One of Schulte’s employees, Denise Hernandez, who is an HR coordinator at Frontier Co-op, says, “Being able to split my work life and my mom life has been really important to me. It’s shown me that I can get wherever I want to in life, and I can show my children that.” 

Employers don’t have to change all at once—but they should at least listen

Any employer who genuinely cares about working parents might want to make these changes but also might have very real barriers in the way, from immediate financial considerations to policy questions. Schulte recommends to them: 

“We’d advise any employer considering a child care program to support their employees… to really listen with an open mind to your team about what their needs are, and don’t be afraid to start small. Not every company can house and subsidize an on-site child care program, and that’s OK,” she says. “But try to think creatively about how you can work with your employees to help ease the burden of child care costs, remove the pressure of finding a program that’s accessible for them locally or even just reduce stress by allowing more flexibility in scheduling. Take the time to figure out what approach is sustainable for your company, what works for you and grow from there.”

As the saying goes, just take the first step.

Photo by JLco Julia Amaral/