Earlier this year, Bright Horizons CEO Dave Lissy was invited to participate with President Obama and a handful of business leaders in the White House Summit on Working Families. With National Work and Family Month reminding us to keep the subject at the forefront, we went to Dave to revisit the conference.
Here in Part 2, Dave talks about Bright Horizons’ role in supporting families and where he thinks this national conversation is heading.
Missed Part 1? Read it here.
Solutions at Work Editor: There’s a lot of talk about what’s impacting employees. What can employers do to help balance work, life, and family?
Dave Lissy: A number of employers have already taken critical steps. At the Summit Round Table, the CEOs of several Bright Horizons client organizations talked about their approaches.
These are very accomplished business leaders from some of the world’s top companies. These companies are true models of the supportive workplace, and they’re also some of the world’s biggest financial successes.
Those two things are absolutely connected. If you look at their employee benefits and work/life offerings, you’ll see things like flex time, child care, and care for the elderly. These companies illustrate how support leads to success.
SE: Can you give some examples?
DL: A woman from one of our client organizations actually stopped me on the way in to talk about her own particular challenges that morning. She had a sick child and she called for back-up care that morning from our Back-Up Care Advantage Program. A care provider was at her house that same morning. The woman said to me, “You’re the reason I’m here at this event today.”
It’s always an honor to hear employees talk about how back-up care and other Bright Horizons solutions have supported them. It makes me really proud of the work we do. For me, it was reinforcement and validation of how important these types of supports are.
SE: Where do we go from here with National Work and Family Month, and the conversation about work/family conflict?
DL: The conversation needs to continue and grow. We — employers and employees — have to bring the need for work/life programs and family supports out in the open. Working parents need to know it’s OK to take care of their families.
We know some employers are already doing this. Our clients are prime examples of companies that understand the connection between supported employees and solid financial returns.
We’re seeing those kinds of cultures celebrated with honors like Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies – a huge distinction for employers. And we know employers want to earn that distinction: not simply for the recognition, but for what it says about the kind of company they are. Awareness generated through these awards and events like National Work and Family Month is absolutely a step in the right direction.
It’s really heartening that so many companies recognize the winning formula: accept employees’ family responsibilities outside of work, provide a supportive workplace, and reap the benefits of engaged employees and a better bottom line.
But, our recent survey shows that not all employers have embraced it at the same level. That’s our challenge — there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. Companies need to realize that supportive cultures aren’t a “nice to have” but a “must do.” And we need to continue the public conversation about how innovative workplace strategies will make that a reality.