What Happens When Employees Bring Babies to Work?

At W.S. Badger, an organic skin-care company in Gilsum, New Hampshire, one employee’s idea turned into a benefit available to all.

The company’s unique Babies at Work program encourages the parent/child bond at a critical time, while also providing business benefits to Badger: reduced turnover, increased employee engagement, and fewer new parents leaving the workplace.

Badger leaders worked with the Parenting in the Workplace Institute to customize the program to suit the company and employees. Following the company-wide parental leave period, employees are able to bring their babies to work until the baby reaches 6 months of age, or starts crawling (whichever comes first). During that time, parents are given a private workspace where they can comfortably keep their babies tucked away from the office noise, and where they won’t become distractions themselves.

Of course, this program is not appropriate for all employees, nor for all babies. If a baby is colicky, or does not respond well to the office environment, the employee can either work with his/her supervisor to arrange to work from home during this period, or the baby can be placed in a Badger-subsidized day-care center, just a mile up the road from headquarters.

Employees participating in this program are paid for 6 hours a day, rather than 8 hours. This is to allow employees to use up to 2 hours a day for exclusive care of the child. Employees can either use their vacation time to compensate for the lost time, or they can accept a reduced salary. Badger says this program has contributed greatly to company culture, even for those employees who don’t have children. The company has  also seen a dramatic increase in employee retention as a result of programs like this.

Additional benefits at Badger include a wellness fund, which allows reimbursements for yoga classes and even running shoes, and an organic lunch served daily to all employees; many of the ingredients are grown right on the company grounds.

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Badger’s workplace policies and benefits have been recognized by the Families and Work Institute & SHRM,Fatherly, and the White House Working Families Summit. Badger is also a certified B Corporation, and has made B Corp’s Best for the Environment list for earning an environmental score in the top 10% of more than 1,200 Certified B Corporations.

Meet some of the employees and administrators who’ve benefited from these programs in this video, produced by OpenWork,

This article was originally posted on OpenWork, a nonprofit committed to inspiring companies to continuously improve how, when, and where work is done for the mutual benefit of employees and employers.

Kathleen Christensen is a member of the board of directors at OpenWork, a new nonprofit inspiring companies to continuously improve how, when, and where work is done for the mutual benefit of employees and employers. Kathleen directs the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Working Longer program. Previously, Dr. Christensen established and led Sloan’s 17-year pioneering program on working families, including spearheading the first national workplace flexibility campaign. Dr. Christensen planned and participated in the 2014 White House Summit on Working Families and the 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility. In 2010, Dr. Christensen was named by Working Mother magazine as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Work-Life Field.” In 2004, Families and Work Institute honored her with the inaugural Work-Life Legacy Award as a founder of the work-life field.

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