On-Site Daycare Linked to Lower Employee Job Satisfaction

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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  • Holland

    December 11th, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    All of the years that I worked outside of the home I would have been super grateful if the company for whom I worked had offered on site child care. Sure I can see that if I was not happy with the service then that could make things hard.

    But what about the chance to see my kids any time that I wanted to during the day of I had a free minute? That would have been so special and priceless that I think that I could have forgiven a few things as long as I knew that my children were being taken care of.

    Those who resent something like this, well I think that they just need to get their heads screwed on a little straighter and be thankful for this gift that they are being given.

  • sandra teague

    December 12th, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    Do you think that some of this unhappiness could have to do with the fact that you are working full time and are so close to your children but can’t really spend the quality time with them that you woukd likely rather be doing? I don’t know if there is an easy solution to this problem, because in my eyes no matter how wonderful the care is, something about it will never measure up to what I would feel like I would be able to give the kids if they were home with me. I definitely see the benefits of more and more companies offering these services and facilities for employees but nothing is ever going to make this reality the easiest situation in the world to live with.

  • renee

    December 12th, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    quality of day care could be below par wherever you go.I think the most common reason for these parents to have low job satisfaction was because they would constantly go to check on their kids,what with them being in the same location?I could be wrong but I don’t understand how else this could be a bad thing.I would love it if my workplace did that years ago when my kids were little.

  • F.D

    December 13th, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Its natural to connect the quality of one aspect in the organization to another.Like I had this friend at the workplace who always had a problem with the location of our office and eventually started hating her job because of that.We had no element of outside interaction in our work and yet she let the locality affect her thoughts and finally quit!

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