W.S. Badger Company is a small, family run and family-friendly business. We’ve been around since 1995. Badger markets, manufactures, and sells organic topical skin care and aroma therapeutic products. We have customers throughout the US and around the world. Approximately 40 people are employed at Badger.
We first met Carla Moquin and the Parenting in the Workplace Institute early in 2008. The owners and founders of W.S. Badger Company, Bill Whyte and Katie Schwerin, have always tried to make Badger a family friendly and family supportive employer. Bill and Katie also feel very strongly that the first few months of a newborn’s life are a very important time for parent-child bonding. In late 2007 and in early 2008 four Badger employees shared news of their pregnancies. One of those employees had been able to bring her 1st child to another workplace soon after the birth, and hoped that Badger would also allow her to do so with her second child. She’d also found the Parenting in the Workplace Institute’s website, and shared some ideas for Badger.
Her suggestions were enthusiastically received by the owners. The Badger HR Coordinator contacted Carla. She took the time to learn about Badger, the company’s culture, the reality of physical space challenges, and what the owners hoped to accomplish. She shared information about starting a program, forms from the Institute’s website, offered encouragement, and shared experiences of other companies, as well as contact information of those willing to be a resource. While Carla’s passion about helping companies formulate babies at work programs is evident, she was very clear about making certain Badger understood how to create its own program. She was very patient with this busy company, and offered countless resources to help us along the path to developing a successful program.
Allowing new parents to bring their babies to work benefited our company in several ways.
First, it was a fabulous team building activity, which was an unanticipated benefit. Employees needed to communicate in new ways with co-workers in their department, as well as beyond, to make the program succeed. We asked people to feel free to speak up, if they had concerns or problems about babies in the workplace. Some did.
Any team building activity, Badger believes, should have elements of fun in it. Having at one moment 3 babies in the company was fun! We all eat lunch together here, and holding the babies so the parents could eat was fun and certainly helped us to get to know each other. We also learned a lot about team work in our departments while designing this program from conception to completion.
Second, there was no money spent to get this program started. Good ROI! We do not require, nor ask, the mothers to be as productive as they would be without their children in the workplace. We have a very specific agreement with the mother which states this. Hourly employees got paid for the hours actually worked. Mother and baby time is not compensated.
Exempt employees make arrangements to finish projects at home or may take a salary reduction during the time they bring their babies to work.
Third, the program benefits Badger employee retention. There’s no doubt that the mothers who brought their children to work are loyal employees. We are a mission statement-driven company. Most other Badger employees who aren’t part of the program appreciate what the company is doing as part of its mission and support the concept. That creates loyalty and longevity, too.
Fourth, our Babies at Work Program helps with recruitment and prescreening of applicants. As the word has spread about this program, it has helped us find good employees who really support our mission statement and corporate principles. Good cultural fit is important for any small business. It has also helped some candidates to pre-select and decide they would rather not work for a business with such a program.
Another unintended benefit has been the publicity we’ve received. We are pretty well known, locally and beyond for our products. Our brand is now thought of a company that is offering some creative programs to benefit employees. Through local publicity we’ve received some national and regional media exposure, which really helps our brand.
--Jay Smeltz, HR Director
Amanda and baby Teagan
(Photo by Kelli Strickland)
Amanda with daughter Teagen on sheepskin, and Emily at the copier holding Eilen