Utah business leaders release new family-friendly policies guide

Utah business leaders release new family-friendly policies guide


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You might not realize it, but childcare issues cost Utah's economy an estimated $1.36 billion loss per year, according to the National Association of Workforce Boards. On the other hand, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that every $1 invested in child care can yield as much as a $9 return on investment.

So if you're a business owner or manager, the writing's on the wall: Something needs to be done to make workplace policies more family-friendly.

That's why the Utah Community Builders, in partnership with the Salt Lake Chamber, United Way of Salt Lake, and Voices for Utah Children, recently released a new resource for the business community titled "Family-Friendly Workplaces: A Guide for Utah Business Leaders." The guide spotlights valuable data and best practices for businesses to elevate the culture and leadership around childcare support.

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber believes there's a lot that the private sector can do to address this issue.

"Utah's working parents need business leaders who are willing to elevate corporate culture by taking a comprehensive approach to the child care challenge," Miller said. "We hope this guide will be a helpful resource for Utah leaders in business, government and community."

Here are a few of the highlights.

Understand the issue

Everyone knows Utah is a desert but fewer people know that the state is also considered a childcare desert. That's because 77% of Utahns live without access to child care either because of limited proximity to services or unaffordability, according to the guide. And though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that families should pay no more than 7% of their household income on these services, most Utahns pay between 15% to 20%.

With a higher number of parents in the workforce than ever before, family-friendly policies have never been more important.

What can be done

In addition to considering policies such as paid parental leave, research shows promising results for investing in high-quality daycare programs. The National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs found that these programs can yield between a $4 to $9 return for every $1 invested.

Benefits for employers

Families are also not the only ones who'll benefit from family-friendly workplace policies. Businesses that make child care a priority will find that they'll be more attractive to prospective employees, which sets them apart from the competition and boosts employee retention.

Utah business leaders release new family-friendly policies guide
Photo: DGLimages/Shutterstock.com

Where to start

It's important to begin by understanding the needs of working parents. You may want to conduct employee surveys, host focus groups and open lines of communication between staff and senior leadership. If you feel overwhelmed, the guide emphasizes that taking small steps can lead to quick wins. For example, you could provide a directory of all the local childcare programs in your community or establish flexibility where possible.

Change the culture — over time

Ultimately, you want your employees to know that you're aware of and care about their needs. When they feel supported by leaders, loyalty increases. But creating this culture shift can take time, so don't give up if you don't notice any major changes right away.

Learn more

The guide dives deeper into each of these categories and gives helpful suggestions on what employers and employees can do to improve childcare access in the workplace. After carefully reviewing it, employers, managers and human resource professionals should consider what actionable steps they should take to create a more family-friendly work environment.

You can access the "Family-Friendly Workplaces: A Guide for Utah Business Leaders" by visiting the Salt Lake Chamber website.

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