We have the culture; we can set the standard. Organizations must invest in family-friendly workplaces to alleviate the load on Utah families.

Utah’s urgent need for family-friendly workplaces

We have the culture; we can set the standard. Organizations must invest in family-friendly workplaces to alleviate the load on Utah families.

Photo by charlesdeluvio | Unsplash

Child care challenges heavily burden families, especially with access and affordability becoming increasingly out of reach. Care center closures, the emergence of child care deserts and limited, expensive options for families result in higher economic costs for communities. Organizations must invest in child care to alleviate the load on Utah families.

The state of play 

Seventy-seven percent of Utah’s residents lack access to child care services due to limited availability or affordability. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests child care should not exceed 7 percent of a family’s household income to be considered affordable. Despite low poverty rates, many Utah households struggle with child care prices; full-time care at a licensed facility often costs 15-20 percent of a household’s income. 

Consequently, parents seek alternative, more affordable arrangements that sometimes hinder education and employment. With more parents returning to the workforce, family-friendly workplace cultures and accessible, affordable child care options are becoming increasingly important.

The business case 

Child care is not just a family issue—it’s a business issue that affects work dynamics and employee retention. Companies offering paid family leave and high-quality child care differentiate themselves and encourage employee loyalty. 

The pandemic has highlighted the crucial link between child care and the economy, with over 2.3 million women leaving the labor force as child care responsibilities disproportionately fall on female caregivers, especially women of color. The lack of child care options causes an estimated annual loss of $1.36 billion for Utah’s economy. Businesses must think innovatively, create a family-friendly workplace culture and invest in child care infrastructure to support working parents and the overall economy. 

Small, mighty steps

First, understand the needs of your working parent employees through research and engage with community partners (child care providers and advocacy organizations) to learn about available resources and expertise. 

Next, overcommunicate what you are doing throughout the organization. Implement flexible work options, provide a directory of local child care programs or offer a Department Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) and gather feedback on these changes. Then, build on these successes and plan for larger, long-term improvements. Creating an environment where employees feel supported and cared for starts with leadership. Remember that culture change takes time but can yield mighty results. 

Utah businesses empower families

Utah’s strong family culture is foundational to the state’s current strength and ongoing prosperity. Our business leaders can set a new standard for workplace culture and appreciation. Family-friendly workplaces benefit employees and contribute to improved employee retention, economic stability and workforce diversity. Taking action will empower our employees and families to achieve their highest potential.