One of the most challenging tasks for any working parent is balancing family and work life. For parents of young children, finding adequate and affordable daycare can be a daunting task. Many companies have begun offering on-site daycare for their employees in an effort to improve retention and decrease losses in productivity and work time. By having an employee’s children in the same location as the employee, employees can visit their children during the day and should have less childcare-related stress, or so the thinking goes. The overall result to the company should be more focused workers and higher productivity. But this is not always the case.
Prema Ratnasingam of the University of Houston’s Department of Psychology recently interviewed parents whose children were in on-site and off-site childcare to compare their attitudes toward work and childcare. Ratnasingam also evaluated the family supportive organization perceptions (FSOP) of the participants and measured how these related to job engagement and job satisfaction. The results revealed that participants whose children were in on-site childcare were less happy and less involved in their jobs when they felt that their children were receiving poor care, and if they believed their company was unsupportive of their goals to balance work and family life. In contrast, participants with off-site childcare did not have decreases in job satisfaction or engagement as a result of what they perceived to be poor childcare or unsupportive employers.
Ratnasingam believes that when people receive a company-sponsored service, such as childcare, and it does not meet their expectations, they turn their resentment toward other aspects of their company, including job performance. The low level of FSOP added to discontent and increased resentment in the on-site care participants, which served to exacerbate their job dissatisfaction and disengagement. There were some participants, however, who were satisfied with their jobs, regardless of the type of childcare they received and regardless of low or high FSOP. This could be the result of other positive factors, such as colleague support, organizational climate, and job-related fulfillment. Future studies should address these elements as mediators or moderators to the company-childcare effect. Until that time, Ratnasingam believes that companies should take every measure to ensure that their employees’ needs are being met. “The findings of the current study emphasize the importance of coupling on-site childcare with a compatible organizational climate and high-quality childcare services,” she added.
Ratnasingam, Prema, Christiane Spitzmueller, William Ryan King, Christina Rubino, Aleksandra Luksyte, Russell A. Matthews, and Gwenith G. Fisher. Can on-site childcare have detrimental work outcomes? Examining the moderating roles of family supportive organization perceptions and childcare satisfaction. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 17.4 (2012): 435-44. Print.
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