'Infants At Work' Policy Up and Coming in Businesses

A new work policy being implemented in about 200 offices around the country is providing the ultimate convenience for new parents: allowing them to take their infants to work.

This innovative ‘Infants At Work’ policy allows new parents to bring their infants (aged from six weeks to six months old) to the office with them.

One company who just implemented the policy this summer is the Washington State Department of Health. According to the company’s press release regarding the policy, “The state Department of Health has a new ‘Infants at Work Policy’ based on the long term health value of breastfeeding newborns and infant/parent bonding.”

Marissa VanHoozer, an employee with the company, benefited greatly from the policy. “My husband and I had moved here from Hawaii where we served in the army and I was a new state employee,” she explained. “I had maybe enough leave to get through my prenatal appointments but after that, I knew we’d be down to one income until I felt comfortable enough to return to work.”

According to VanHoozer, her colleagues were incredibly supportive of her having her son, Gavin, with her at work. “It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “I don’t think I had a single complaint during the entire time that Gavin was here.”

There are, however, potential drawbacks to such a program, as pointed out by Bob Kelleher, CEO of the Employee Engagement Group. The obvious problem would be, Kelleher noted, what happens when the baby becomes disruptive.

“If I’m working side by side with you and you have a child, and the child starts crying and you have to stand up and take the child someplace else,” Kelleher said, “that’s going to disrupt my flow at that moment.”

Kelleher also cited concerns about other employees being expected to pick up any potential slack if a parent becomes held up with their child.

Acknowledging the benefits of such a program, though, Kelleher said, “In the right organization, in the right culture, it can be a very positive tool.”

However, Carla Moquin, founder of the Parenting in the Workplace Institute, believes this could be effective in all companies.

“We would love to see this take off in most organizations because it does work,” she said. “It could help so many more families than people realize.”

In order for the policy to work successfully and not have a negative impact on other employees Moquin shared with TODAY rules companies should consider when formulating their own policies:

Babies cannot be disruptive

The program is limited to babies who can’t yet crawl

Everybody still needs to get their work done

Parents need to pre-plan for back-up care

There should be a baby-free zone in place

While it may be a difficult policy to implement, companies would benefit from it as well due to higher retention rates. As reported by DiversityInc, one of the top ways to retain high potential employees, female Millennials and female employees overall is by providing a flexible workplace environment. If executed correctly, this policy could prove to not only allow new parents to balance their work and home lives but improve employee satisfaction as well.

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