Transcript: Episode 188 – The Pressure to Find Passion, Purpose, and a Paycheck in Your Career (with Peggy Hogan)
February 12, 2024
Show Notes: Episode 189 – What the Childcare Crisis Means for Recruiting and Retention (with Anna Rasco)
February 26, 2024

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Anna 00:01
Parents will tell you that flexibility is king for them no matter what. But what that looks like could be different for every company.

JoDee 00:12
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink. With me is my dear friend and co-host Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice.

JoDee 00:36
Our topic today is the childcare crisis’ impact on recruiting and retention. A 2023 survey from Arreaza’s organization found that 59% of parents reported cutting back on hours or leaving a job because they couldn’t find reliable, affordable childcare. I have to tell you, Susan, I know we both have grandkids but we’re… we’re not in that time of life anymore, so at least for me, that was a super surprising statistic.

Susan 01:15
I would have thought things have gotten better. I know it was tough when we were looking for daycare for our kids. But oh my gosh, that’s just huge, isn’t it? It’s still a really important issue.

JoDee 01:24
Right. In a Forbes article by Maria Flynn on November 2, 2023, Maria said the US childcare crisis is holding back the workforce. They also gave a shout out to UPS, noting that they are expanding their on-site childcare to many more employees. The company first provided emergency daycare services during a pilot program in 2022, but the need is so evident now that UPS will offer the initiative to even more workers and plan to expand the service to additional facilities in 2024. This is a move that other employers and policy makers should pay attention to. The federal government is investing billions of dollars in emerging sectors like clean energy and the semiconductor industry, creating millions of new and quality jobs in the process. But inadequate access to childcare will create significant barriers for any parent or caretaker who hopes to participate in the workforce or access training that can advance their careers.

Susan 02:48
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as 100,000 Americans have been forced to stay home from work each month because of childcare problems. The economic toll now amounts to $122 billion each year in lost earnings productivity and revenue. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that childcare obligations represent a massive hurdle for workers struggling to access job training. While the pandemic amplified childcare challenges in the United States, this is not a new problem. Even before the pandemic, more than 2 million parents each year were left with little choice but to reduce their role in the labor force. And those challenges are exasperated for Black and multicultural parents. They experienced job disruptions related to childcare problems at nearly double the rate of white parents.

JoDee 03:40
Wow.

Susan 03:41
I know.

JoDee 03:42
Policymakers at the federal and state levels are taking note. In March of 2023, for example, the US Department of Commerce announced that any companies applying for the billions of dollars in funding made available by the CHIPS and Science Act will be required to provide childcare for all of their workers.

Susan 04:08
Oh, that’s a huge statement, isn’t it?

JoDee 04:10
Yeah, no kidding. In response to the expiration of COVID-19 childcare stabilization funds in September 2023, the White House asked Congress for $16 billion to help temporarily avert a funding cliff that could impact millions of families. I think there will be continued pressure on employers to provide or support childcare initiatives in 2024.

Susan 04:43
Childcare in America has long had issues. The costs are steep for both providers and parents, leaving it both in short supply and unaffordable for many families. Last year, the average annual price nationwide for childcare was nearly $11,000 according to the Child Care Aware of America, though the rates may be much higher depending on the location. At the same time, childcare worker pay is low, making it hard for childcare workers to commit to stay in that industry and for centers to hold on to their staff. Childcare workers typically earn just shy of $14 an hour or $28,520 a year in 2022 according to the BLS. Can you imagine? You know, we think about how important childcare is and how little people are paid, you can understand why people with really talents in childcare don’t stay in that profession.

JoDee 05:37
Exactly.

Susan 05:39
To learn more about this topic, we’ve invited Anna Rasco to share her story, as well as talk about the impact on retention and recruiting. Anna is a senior talent advisor at Purple Ink. She is skilled at helping recruiting clients with their talent acquisition strategies and placing the right people in the right roles. Anna is also the mother of three young girls – so cool – and she has personally been impacted by this topic. So Anna, we are so happy that you’re here.

Anna 06:08
Thanks, Susan. I’m excited to be here.

Susan 06:11
Anna, do you mind sharing with our listeners how this crisis has impacted your own life?

Anna 06:16
Absolutely. Yeah, we welcomed our third girl, as you spoke about, last February. We’re coming to that, oh, one year old birthday. I can’t believe it. But that was an exciting time for us, and also a turbulent time. We had enrolled her in daycare months before she was even born, which you’ll find that’s common for a lot of children nowadays.

Susan 06:42
I hear that if you don’t do that you may not get a spot.

Anna 06:45
That’s right.

Susan 06:46
Wow.

Anna 06:47
Yeah. And the only reason we got that particular spot is because our other kids were already enrolled in that daycare.

Susan 06:54
Wow.

Anna 06:55
Yeah. And so when we actually had her, a couple months prior to that, the daycare pushed over to new management, and they got rid of the infant program, and so they told us, you’ll no longer have care for your infant. And that was really our only plan, Susan, we had no other plans at that point.

Susan 07:15
Oh, dear, oh, I’m so sorry.

Anna 07:18
It’s okay. So we called around to all local area daycares, probably within an hour radius, just trying to come up with any sort of an option. We had one daycare at one point tell us it was a two year waiting list.

Susan 07:33
For the infant room! They’re gonna be, you know, out of the diapers by the time you can get them in there.

Anna 07:38
That’s right! Exactly. And they had people in that list who were not even pregnant but wanted to reserve a spot, if that just kind of gives you an idea of where our world is today. And so we found these were unrealistic waiting lists. We came up with some other options and since then have gone through two different nannies. That was really the best we could come up with. One ended up moving away, another got a much higher paying job that we really couldn’t compete with, you know, we were paying on our own. And so from there, we had to just get flexible with our work schedules. And Purple Ink has been so gracious to me, Susan, working with my schedule to where I’m able to manage, you know, having the kids around and things like that. So I’m beyond grateful for my employer, but that’s not true for a lot of parents.

Susan 08:32
You’re so right. Yeah. Man. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through that. I’m so happy that you’re with Purple Ink, and I know they’re happy you’re with them, too. So yeah, it’s a win-win. So Anna, how do the recent expiration of emergency childcare funding and the major decline in childcare options since the pandemic affect other parents in the workforce?

Anna 08:52
Yeah, well, Susan, in, in the pandemic, we saw a lot of childcare centers actually closing because it was too hard to maintain safety regulations, keep everything clean, a lot of them were having to close weeks on end if there was a COVID outbreak, and so during the pandemic, it forced a lot of them to close. And the government responded to that with the American Rescue Plan Act that passed in 2021 to provide childcare stabilization grants. And so that’s really what that funding was that has kind of dried up as of September 30. And they said when that actually finished 3.2 million children were going to lose childcare based on, you know, them having to raise costs to fix them not having grants, or simply because they just couldn’t afford it and the childcare center would have to close. So one of those two options was going to cause a lot of working parents to then be in a difficult situation, and we’ve seen some states around the country step in to help with that, but it’s just not enough, and a lot of those childcare centers that closed are not reopening, Susan. Those people have gone on to other careers, are doing new things, and so there’s just a huge gap there because of that.

Susan 10:14
Wow. Well, you know, you almost think that the federal government, and now it sounds like some state governments, have tried to step in and stand in that gap. But I think that, you know, what’s really important for our listeners to realize is that we as HR leaders, we as business leaders, we need to be more creative. Because if we have people like yourself who can’t get… get to work because of childcare needs, what can we do differently? So I would love to pick your brain, Anna. What can employers be doing on the policy front or with requirements or programs that could be more parent-friendly?

Anna 10:45
Thank you for asking that, Susan. I think this isn’t something necessarily that companies had to ask a lot before or delve into before, maybe they weren’t willing to, but times are changing now, and they’re almost being forced to evaluate what does flexibility truly look like for our employees, and childcare and being a parent is a huge part of that flexibility that employees… employees are now requiring from their employers. And so parents will tell you that flexibility is king for them no matter what. But what that looks like could be different for every company. So some companies will tell you, you know, Susan, I can’t have someone work remotely, I can’t have someone work from home, that’s just not how we operate. And I’ve been in those industries doing HR and we still allowed working parents to have flexibility. If a kid was sick at school, or they were on Christmas break, we covered for them. So when employers say we’re a family, we come together to support our employees… Are you truly doing that for your employees’ families? How are you supporting them? There’s so many different ways. And some of that starts with policy, just like everything does in HR, Susan. There has to be some wiggle room there, but a lot of it is policy. So do you have policies in place of what flexibility and remote work looks like? What are expectations, and do you outline family needs within those expectations when creating them?

Susan 12:20
And I love when we think about this, that it’s not necessarily parents of young children, it can very well be adults who are taking care of their elderly parents.

Anna 12:29
That’s right. Yes.

Susan 12:31
Perhaps they have a sibling that they have really taken on as, as their responsibility, or there’s a whole host of other types of needs that people have. But flexibility is king, we know that, that’s what we hear over and over again from job candidates, from employees’ engagement surveys, and so on, so forth. So you’re right, we gotta start with the policy. Let’s bring it even closer to home for people’s managers. You know, what… Are there things that a direct supervisor or direct manager could do in trying to make that workforce more inviting to parents?

Anna 13:01
I think it’s healthy for employers – if employees are open to it – to ask about their children. So as a manager, you can ask your employees, “How are your kids feeling? I know they were sick last week,” “How did they do on that difficult test?”, “How are you doing since they moved to college?” even. But checking in on your employees and their family status is acknowledging that that affects their everyday work. And so as their manager, you are responsible to continue to ask how they’re doing in all their life, including as a parent, and including their children. We’ve heard it said time and time again that managers can make or break an employee experience. And so if you are trying to keep top talent, it’s crucial that you exemplify that flexibility as a manager that we’re also asking the larger company to exemplify.

Susan 13:55
I think that’s a very, very fair point. So what advice – because you know, your specialty, your wheelhouse is truly in attracting talent and recruiting. What do you think companies should be doing to ensure that they are recruiting parents – specifically mothers and mothers with young children – into the workforce? Any tips you might have?

Anna 14:14
Yeah, I found a stat that really stood out to me, Susan, because I’m a millennial. But it says 83% of millennials say that they would leave their job for family-friendly benefits. So I would ask employers, what are you offering that is family-friendly? Are you featuring that in your job postings? And there’s a myriad of things that companies can offer, all the way from a Dependent Care FSA, which can also apply to aging parents, as we discussed, but there are also things like an on-site daycare center or a stipend to help pay for childcare, flexibility within start and end times during the workday, Are you featuring those things in your job posting to then attract those parents and make it realistic for them? 77% of working moms consider an employer’s family-friendliness through the benefits they offer as a top priority to them. So we look at that stat with millennials, we look at that stat with moms, and if you want to reach those groups, being able to offer those things are crucial, and learning how to advertise them well is also going to be important.

Susan 15:33
Oh, gosh, wonderful tips. Now, I’m at a different stage in my life, because I’m not a millennial. But I have to tell you, I was looking at a job posting, I think the company was HireVue, who does, you know, all video interviewing. And one of their benefits was gratern… Oh gosh… graternity leave. It’s for grandparents.

Anna 15:51
Oh, I love that.

Susan 15:52
I gotta tell you, I love this company. I mean, I don’t know much about them other than some of the products they serve – they sell, but I think that a place that values your grandparenting and realize how important that is to you… It might have only been, like, three days or five days, doesn’t matter. The fact they see you as… as a grandparent and family being really important to you. Yeah, super. Next question is, are there things that all of us can do? I mean, we’re all in the workforce. We’re all dealing with people. And we’re not always managing individuals. But are there things that we could do to help parents – and specifically mothers – who are reentering the workforce that we should have on our radar?

Anna 16:28
Yes, absolutely. And my manager, Peggy Hogan, who’s been on this podcast before, has been through this herself, so she has a great story around this, Susan, that I’ve appreciated hearing. But I think first we as employers have to understand what parents, and moms specifically, are bringing to the table. And there’s a lot of companies right now out there advocating for this and really pushing that we need to get these moms back into the workforce, a lot of them who left during COVID. So a key part of this is going to be providing training to help them reskill. If they’ve been out of the workforce for a while, what free certifications can companies be offering? Or maybe there are momships that start, right? Like, internships for moms reentering the workforce.

Susan 17:17
Oh, I love that. A momship!

Anna 17:17
What – what can we do to reenlist those moms who are incredibly hardworking, but maybe had to give up some of their career time to prioritize their family? There’s a beauty in that and we need to be able to recognize that, and I think offering, you know, some options for childcare to those future employees saying, hey, we’re gonna make this easy on you to come back, and then to be able to pay them a wage to where it makes sense for them to pay childcare and work hard for you.

Susan 17:51
I love that. A company that I used to work for, JPMorgan Chase, they have built a return to work transition program. And they are trying to get people who’ve been out of the workforce for a variety of reasons, including childcare. And it’s just awesome to see. And getting them all skilled up so that when they come back in, hopefully at a level that they can afford to have daycare. So I think that that’s one company is putting in your thoughts in action.

Anna 18:14
Oh, good. I like to hear that. That’s great.

Susan 18:16
Beautiful. Anna, can you think of one small step or change perhaps that you’ve made during your career that boosted your joy at work?

Anna 18:25
Yeah, Susan, when I first started in my career, I took a fairly low paying job, and in that I learned a lot, I grew a lot, but I was ready to move up the ladder at that point, so I started taking jobs simply for pay or a title. And I came to realize when I was working at the most toxic company I have ever worked for by far that it… it was not a healthy way to make career moves. And so I kind of shifted that and started saying, I want to actually dive into what the company values, who the managers are, how they’re living day-to-day. Does it match the values that I share? And then, you know, being so blessed to be at Purple Ink and have those values align… It’s such a different environment and a different culture. And I would say that had a huge effect on the joy I experienced at work by being intentional about the company that I choose to work for.

Susan 19:27
So smart. I have to tell you, and I don’t get to see you very often, but when I do encounter you, you’re just a person who exudes joy.

Anna 19:33
Thank you Susan, that’s so kind.

Susan 19:34
So it’s working for you. Yeah, no, very true. So how can our listeners… If they wanted to continue the conversation with you or talk to you about recruiting talent that in a flexible way, how could our listeners find you?

Anna 19:48
Absolutely. Well, I would love to connect with them on LinkedIn. You can just look me up Anna Rasco, R-A-S-C-O, and then my Purple Ink email is Anna, A-N-N-A at purpleinkllc.com. And so those are just the easiest ways to get in contact with me.

Susan 20:05
Beautiful. Well, thank you so much for being here today and sharing your experience and some tips for the rest of us.

Anna 20:10
Thank you, Susan.

Susan 20:12
JoDee, we have a listener question today. Please listeners, remember, we do welcome questions anytime. “It was mentioned that so many people get into HR accidentally. This is what happened to me. How can we do better at making HR a career choice instead of a career accident?”

JoDee 20:29
Yeah, you know, I… we’ve talked about this before, too, how most of the people on the Purple Ink team got into HR by accident or that, you know, even for me, I was an accounting major in college and then shifted to it much later in my career. I am, however, seeing more universities offering a degree in HR or organizational leadership or fields… even more master’s programs in this area, too. So I already feel like we might be seeing a change in that going forward. But I also think it’s… you know, coming from the accounting industry, where we used to do kind of recruiting events, or at least career events, even at the high school level. Right? And so I don’t think there’s been – certainly not an organized effort by anyone to promote that as a career for younger students, or maybe even in the college arena. But maybe that will come someday, or maybe that’s something that SHRM could tackle. I could give them that encouragement to do that. What do you think, Susan?

Susan 22:00
Well, I was really lucky, because I went to Indiana University back in the late 1970s, and they did have an HR program, although it was called Personnel and Industrial Relations. Back then the universities were really focused on union environments and really training people to be union negotiators, how to handle labor relations. And so I was lucky enough to get my degree in Management with my area of concentration in Personnel and Industrial Relations. But I will tell you, nobody was hiring. I mean, it was – I graduated in May of ’80. I think there was two jobs at the placement office. And you know, IU has a huge and wonderful business school and wonderful placement office, but I… there was two open jobs. And of course, I applied for them and did not get them in HR. So I, you know, I decided, well, I got banking in my background, I’m gonna go into banking in the hopes that someday I could transfer into HR. And that’s what I ended up doing. And I do believe we’ve talked about this in other episodes, that the best HR people, I think, are people who have some business experience, because you’re going to be coaching people on how to supervise people, you’re going to be helping us strategically think about how to handle people issues. And if you have some business background, I think you’re going to do a better job at giving better advice. So for those of you that get there by accident, it might just be – what was that Rascal Flatts song? The broken road that led me straight to you? The broken road that led you straight to a wonderful career in HR. And every experience you’re having, I think, really helps your credibility in that new job and helps you think more broadly than if you just studied HR your whole life, you’re born to do HR, and that’s all you’ve experienced. I think it’s great that you’ve taken a kind of a round… a wow… what do you call it? A winding path to get there.

JoDee 23:44
Yeah. Good answer. You know, I’ll admit, I went to the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana, and we also had what was then called Personnel Management. And I took two classes in that program because I was somewhat interested in HR also. But my classes were completely focused on labor unions, and I was bored out of my mind. So I never, you know, I never took any more classes, but I didn’t even think about that, that that might be similar to other universities during those years. I graduated in 1985.

JoDee 24:33
Alright. In our in the news today, Top Interviewer did a survey on the biggest fears that job candidates may face after an interview. When asked, “What do you think is the scariest part of the job search?” One in three seekers said being ghosted was the top concern, and more than half, at 57%, stated that this happened to them. Leaving a candidate in the dark affects employers, as well. When asked, “Has being ghosted by that employer negatively impacted your opinion of that company?” nearly three fourths said it had. So, you know, I think it’s… it’s interesting, or I think of that – even though this survey was in 2023, that that used to be a big issue, that companies would not get back with candidates, which I was always appalled by. And now we see it the other way, right? That the employers are being ghosted by candidates or future employees, too, who just don’t show up on the first day or even come one day and don’t come back. So, yeah, it’s been an interesting cycle, I think, to see.

Susan 26:00
Yeah. I find… I find it rude and terrible. And especially in this day of all of the technology at our fingertips, getting word to somebody, even I – you know, I prefer a call, certainly, if you’ve come and interviewed. But you can’t do that with everyone? Get an email out to all your candidates. Your ATS system has the capability, I’m confident, to just say we’re so sorry, this time it didn’t work.

JoDee 26:22
Right.

Susan 26:22
How much effort is that?

JoDee 26:24
I know, it’s – I think it’s embarrassing for the HR profession, honestly, that people don’t get back. But…

Susan 26:33
Well, I’m trusting that our listeners are in our camp and are not doing that. But let’s get the word out to everybody else. It’s important. People need to hear. I’d rather have bad news than no news.

JoDee 26:42
Right. Well, and I – and I’m sure you were the same way – I remember the days when we typed up a letter and put it in the mail to people.

Susan 26:51
Absolutely.

JoDee 26:52
And I was I never missed sending a letter to someone saying that, and… and that was certainly a much more time consuming process to do that. So.

Susan 27:06
Yes, indeedy.

JoDee 27:07
Well, thanks for listening today and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 27:12
Thank you. If you would like SHRM recertification credit for listening to this podcast, please visit getjoypowered.com/shrm. You’ll find an evaluation of the podcast and once you complete the evaluation, you will see the SHRM recertification credit code and a link to a proof of participation certificate. Again, that’s getjoypowered.com/shrm. Thank you for listening, and thanks for your dedication to the HR profession.

JoDee 27:41
If you liked the show, please tell a few friends about us. And let us know what you thought by leaving us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts. You can find more information on our podcast, our books, our blogs, and more at getjoypowered.com. We’re @JoyPowered on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook and you can send us an email at joypowered@gmail.com. Make it a JoyPowered® day.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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