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Oh, Baby: Piloting an Infants-at-Work Program

As part of our B Corp commitment, one of the important ways we measure success at Participate Learning is through the positive impact we make on our employees. Since September, two employees and their daughters have participated in piloting the Infants-at-Work program: Sara Dittman, senior event planner, and Paula Rock, digital content strategist, along with babies Nora and Dahlia.

For Ranya Hahn, director of Human Resources, the program, which allows parents to bring infants to work with them until they are six months old, has two primary benefits: retention and joy. “Our Infants-at-Work program is designed to support the transition back to work. It reflects Participate Learning’s commitment to our employees as professionals and as parents. Many new moms struggle with the return to work, especially early on when still breastfeeding and having inconsistent sleep schedules. However, all our employees, new parents or not, benefit from the joy the babies bring to the office—Nora and Dahlia brighten the workday for all of us.”

Hear more from Sara and Paula below about their experience piloting the Infants-at-Work program.

What elements made the program work well for you?

Sara: Definitely the alternative care providers, having two other coworkers to help out during the workday. Having someone to hold the baby during critical calls with stakeholders, or just when we need a break to use the restroom, makes it easier to juggle everything. Though, I will say Nora is a welcomed sight on video calls! It’s fun to see how others react when her cute little face pops up on a Zoom call.

Paula: The combination of this program with our existing flexible work culture means that I can do my best work around Dahlia’s schedule, both at home and in the office. It makes it less overwhelming to be able to give her my full attention when she’s fussy or wants to be held. The nursery room setup at the office is amazing, too, with everything we need to comfortably feed, change, and go down for a nap!

Michelle and Nora in La Sala  Sara and Nora hard at work

What advice would you give others trying to pilot a program like this?

Sara: For us, building a routine was really important to our success. I’ve come into the office almost every day since my maternity leave ended and we started the program. Since our days are mostly the same, Nora has developed patterns of when she wants to be fed, when she needs a nap, and when she wants more interaction, and I’ve been able to plan my day around that.

Paula: I’ve learned not to be shy about asking for help from others! It makes such a difference in my day when someone else comes by my desk to hold or play with Dahlia as I juggle my work to-do list and being her primary caregiver. It makes my heart happy to see my coworkers’ faces light up when she smiles at them, and the extra stimulation is so healthy for her.

What are your takeaways from the experience so far?

Sara: This has been a good experience, despite the difficult moments. I’m happy that we had the company’s support when Paula and I pitched them this program. There’s so much development that happens in the first six months, and I’ve been able to see it and be completely a part of it instead of hearing about it secondhand from daycare. Overall, I definitely think it’s been a success, and Participate Learning should keep doing it for future moms.

Paula: I feel fortunate that we have a generous maternity/paternity leave to take advantage of, and with the addition of this policy and our flexible workplace culture, it’s made it easier to ease back into the workplace. I know now that being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, so by comparison, my regular work feels like a piece of cake! But more than that, it’s been priceless to be witnessing Dahlia’s growth and development in leaps and bounds.

Paula and Dahlia on their first day back from maternity leave

For more information about how to start a program for infants in the workplace, see these resources from the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.

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