We began our baby program in March 2011. We have had 16 babies at work to date. Babies can come to work until they're six months old.
We found that the baby program actually made our work environment more productive because people were happier having a little one around--both credit union members and our staff. The employees who brought their infants to work were more productive because they appreciated the opportunity so much.
We saw no decrease in productivity at all--we just saw a happier employee. The goodwill that employees feel toward us as a result of this program can't be measured, especially during these difficult economic times. Parents appreciate the fact that they don't have to have day care expenses during the program.
They want to get back to work, but they also want to be with their newborn. With this program, they get to have both--there's no conflict.
The program instills a loyalty for parents, which can go a long way when things are tough or if people have a bad day at work. I feel like I have a deeper relationship with the employees because they know I was there for them when they needed it, so they're there for me when I need a favor or need them to stay late.
When I first proposed the program, my Board of Directors wondered why we would want to do this, but once they understood more, they came on board with the idea. Everyone can't wait for the next baby to come to work. Before the program, when someone was going to have a baby, we were thinking, “Who's going to do what since the parent's going to be out of the office?” Now, with the program, people actually look forward to the baby's arrival. We realize that the parent won't be out for as long. Knowing that other people won't have to cover the parent's responsibilities for extended periods is a cost savings in morale and in dollars.
One father who brought his baby was back at work within a week. A mother who brought her adopted daughter was eligible to take six weeks off, but she was back at work after just two weeks. It was a little more challenging at first for parents because it was a new program. But pretty soon, the baby just becomes one of us. When an employee can't bring the baby any longer, it's a downer for the other employees. Coworkers feel more involved with the participating employee's family--they see another side of each other.
Parents are really aware of when their baby is fussy, and they'll move to a different area until the baby calms down. No employees have complained about workload issues. People will ask to hold the baby, though, such as during their lunch break.
We have found that our employees appreciate the benefit of a baby program. They see us as caring and family-oriented, and there is an increased willingness by employees to go above and beyond in their performance due to feelings of loyalty. They also feel more like a partner versus just an employee. All of our employees, whether they utilize the program or not, appreciate our willingness to have this available.
One of the best things about the program was that there was no downside to how credit union members saw it. There was not one complaint; they all thought the program was great. Our members felt that they were part of the credit union community. They know the baby's name and want to know how the babies are doing even after they stop coming to work. It solidifies the relationship that we're trying to develop with our members.
Credit unions are all about people helping people. The baby program is another extension of this principle. We ask our staff to help members every day--this is our way to help them.
--Laura Aquirre, President/CEO
Christopher and baby Jackson
Mary Ann with her baby, Lyric
Cherie working with her daughter, Mahina
Alternate Caregiver Lavina with Aria
Doring with her baby, Penny
Tiane with her baby, Tatum
Emily with her baby, Aria
Alternate Care Provider with baby