Babies first began appearing in the GL group offices in 1993. Kathleen Stomps, a telephone sales rep at the time, brought the idea to GL group's founder, Sandy Jaffe, and the executive team, when she was pregnant. The group discussed the possible pros/cons before taking a vote. Of the three women and three men on the leadership team, it was a tie! One woman and two men agreed to give it a shot while the other three were not in agreement. Sandy had to be the tiebreaker. So he said, "What's the worst that could happen?" and the rest is history!
One of the biggest benefits we've seen from the program is employee engagement. Providing new parents with this option helps them feel valued and allows them important bonding time with their new baby. We find they are more engaged and passionate about the company and their work when they return from maternity or paternity leave. Babies in the office also create engagement throughout the entire company. And we can't take credit for it--it's all about the baby! Just having babies at work makes employees feel less stressed, feel more connected with our core values, and brings a strong sense of family and trust into our culture.
We're lucky to have many sweet and comical stories of babies in the office from throughout the years. Customers hear the babies in the background when they call and it is always fun to walk them through our culture and explain why we have babies in the office! Customers are delighted to learn we offer our employees such a unique benefit and it helps to strengthen our relationships and build connections with customers. We've even had customers send in gifts for employees' babies. In addition, many of our employees pitch in to help mom and dad with their babies at work. Our CFO "teaches" accounting, babies attend meetings, and we have had babies participate in some of our leadership development - gotta start them young! At six months of age, babies no longer come to work with mom and dad, so we send them off with a retirement party!
Lisa Whealon, GL group's Chief People Officer, was able to experience her daughter rolling over for the first time - while having tummy time on her desk! It was a magical experience to witness her daughter's "firsts" rather than hear it secondhand from a babysitter or daycare provider.
We believe in the value of having babies in the workplace and have seen the increased engagement that babies bring to our company - it has become an integrated part of our culture! When someone announces they are pregnant we start looking forward to our next baby in the office! This is a program we love and are excited to share with others, so we have created a training class for other companies to learn how we facilitate this program.
GL group has 220 employees and 45 babies have come to work with their mother or fathers.