Best Practices: One Working Mom Inspired a Company-Wide Childcare Initiative at Best Buy

People line up outside of Best Buy near the Green Acres Mall on Black Friday on November 24, 2017 in Valley Stream, NY.
People line up outside of Best Buy near the Green Acres Mall on Black Friday on November 24, 2017 in Valley Stream, NY.
Photo: Stephanie Keith (Getty Images)

When Lanette Johnson brought her 4-month-old son Logan to work in October of 2017, it wasn’t “Bring Your Child to Work Day.” Instead, the team manager had been called in on a previously scheduled vacation day, due to a visit from corporate. Without other childcare options instantly at the ready—Logan’s daycare had delayed his start date, and family members were unavailable—Johnson had no choice but to bring her son with her. Thankfully, he slept peacefully in his stroller as she gave a presentation to the corporate team.

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“I wouldn’t have wanted to bring him, but I had a responsibility here, as well,” Johnson told the Washington Post. “Me being a manager in the building, I can’t always take off when I want to.”

But a manager from the human resources team was on site that day, and was inspired by Johnson’s situation to lobby for a new corporate initiative, granting a backup childcare benefit to all full- and part-time employees. As the Post reported:

Workers at nearly 1,000 U.S. stores, distribution centers and corporate headquarters have access to 10 days of subsidized care each year through a Best Buy partnership with Care.com. The benefit covers up to 10 hours of child care at a day-care center or at an employee’s home. For the employee, the only fee is a $10 a day co-pay.

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Care.com, which is the world’s largest online provider of care resources for the entire family (including pets), has done their own research on the struggles working parents face in finding affordable and accessible childcare, conducting their own study in conjunction with New America. Their findings? Not only have childcare costs risen five times in as many years, but one in three families now spends a staggering 20 percent of their annual income on childcare. To put that in perspective: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as not exceeding more than seven percent of household income.

And Johnson’s situation is far from uncommon, according to Care.com:

81 percent of working parents say their employer doesn’t offer any kind of child care benefits, with 83 percent wishing they did. And businesses should note that 72 percent of parents say their work day has been impacted by child care falling through, with 67 percent using a sick day, 56 percent being late to work, 39 percent using a vacation day, and 26 percent falling behind on work as a result.

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Will Best Buy’s new accommodation resonate with other big corporations? It should, since the Post reports that American businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion each year due to childcare issues that impact their employees’ ability to come to work. It’s an issue that could easily be remedied by supplemental programs that support employees in need of emergency childcare.

“It’s meaningful, not only for the peace of mind of their employees, but also for the economic benefit to the company,” Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder, chairwoman and chief executive of Care.com, said to the Post.

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Best Buy has slowly begun rolling out their program, and Johnson has already benefited, telling the post that after creating an account through Care.com, she was able to schedule backup care, choose a specific caregiver, and receive support within hours. She’s also seen the positive impact of the program within the team she manages. So, how does Johnson feel about she and her son being a catalyst for positive change?

“For something so small like that to be able to affect everyone, so no one else would have to go through that, it was very inspiring and very humbling for me,” she said.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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DISCUSSION

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Ms. Nytusse If You're Nasty

It would also make sense for companies to have their own childcare or daycare (I’m not sure if the two terms are interchangeable?) facilities or to contract with one specific company. Then they could negotiate a better deal, in addition to the fact that there would be a lower cost per child if one provider could care for more than one.

The employing companies would get to be the heroes and provide the service, but they wouldn’t have to spend as much as if each employee had to pay an individual caregiver. Considering that this article quotes a high amount of money lost due to childcare issues, I would have to imagine that—at very least—some of the larger companies would start to see the upside to this. It would also count as a benefit to tout when hiring new employees, and again, the value to the employee would be worth way more than what it would cost to the employer.

Ultimately, I think the language of capitalism will still speak louder than that of fairness or altruism when dealing with corporate structures.  It's also great when a company as substantial as Best Buy makes a change like this because it pressures similar companies to do likewise (eventually).