Baby at work programs grow in popularity

November 17, 2008 10:36:28 PM PST
At least half a dozen Bay Area companies have joined a growing trend meant to help them keep their best employees. They're offering programs where moms or dads can bring their babies to work.

Meet Miguel, Adrian and Liana -- none of these babies can walk yet, but each goes to work five days a week. They are part of a "babies-at-work" program offered to employees at Valley Credit Union in San Jose.

"It makes moms want to come back to work. It also brings a friendlier atmosphere to the branch location," said Erika Macias-Vazquez, loan officer, Valley Credit Union.

"It allows me to spend more time with him and then finish my work at the same time," said Efren Fernandez - credit counselor, Valley Credit Union.

"I get to see her grow, I don't miss any milestones," said Jenny Guevarra, loan officer, Valley Credit Union.

Loan officer Jenny Guevarra speaks from experience. Her older son also participated in the program when he was a baby. So far, 61 babies have come to work with their parents since Valley Credit Union started its program 10 years ago. It helps employees balance their work and life.

"It saves us from paying the babysitter or whatnot, not only that, but to bond with the baby here," said Fernandez.

And Debbie Sallen, vice president of human resources, says the company benefits too.

"We're pretty well known in this area for the babies in the workplace program, so we certainly use that in our advertising and it really does help to recruit people and retain them once they're here," said Sallen.

In fact, this program has helped the union clinch a spot on the list of "50 best places to work" in San Jose for six years in a row.

"I believe that the moms and dads who bring their babies to work actually work harder, because they're appreciative of the program and don't want anybody to perceive them as not doing their share," said Sallen.

Babies-at-work is a growing movement. An organization called "Parenting in the Workplace Institute" has been championing it and says there are currently at least 100 companies in more than 35 states in the U.S. where employees can bring their babies to work until they're about 8-months old or crawling.

To find out more about this program, visit www.babiesatwork.org

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