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Want Your Employees to Love You? Take Care of Their Kids

A father and son on-site at one of SAS Institute's campus cafes, which offers child-friendly menus, including octopus-shaped hot dogs.A father and son on-site at one of SAS Institute's campus cafes, which offers child-friendly menus, including octopus-shaped hot dogs.
A father and son on-site at one of SAS Institute's campus cafes, which offers child-friendly menus, including octopus-shaped hot dogs.Courtesy of SAS Institute

When Maria Brous found out she was pregnant, she made three calls: The first to her husband, the second was to her mother, and the third was to Publix’s child development center.

“I knew I wanted [my son] Ethan to go to there,” Brous says. “I didn’t want to take him to any other place.” Brous is the director of media and community relations at Publix Super Markets, No. 67 one Fortune‘s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, and the mother of a second-grader. Like so many working moms, her decision to return to the workplace was impacted by the availability—and affordability—of child care, which can cost more than rent in many states.

“I was turning him over to someone at 8 weeks,” she says, but notes that the decision was made easy by the availability of care.

“Walking into the development center is like walking into an old schoolhouse,” says Brous. “The director knows every child’s name, she knows who all the parents are.” The director, Kay Allen, has been with Publix for the 32 years since it was founded, as have the center’s assistant director and nurse. “It’s our own people taking care of our children,” Brous says.

While it is unusual in today’s workplace, it’s not quite so radical for Publix, where nearly 20,000 employees have worked for more than 15 years. The turnover for full-time employees is just 5%.

 

The employee-owned supermarket chain is one of 24 companies on the 100 Best Companies list that offers on-site child care at headquarters, one of the factors that went into the rankings. SAS Institute, No. 8 on the list, provides parents with discounted care on the company’s campus in Cary, N.C. as well as subsidies for off-campus care, says Diane Arsenault, the child care manager at the business analytics software company.

The on-campus care center is open a little earlier and a later than regular working hours—8:30am until 5:15pm—and is known amongst employees as the “baby valet” because the employees will sometimes hand off their children to caretakers directly from their cars on their way to an early meeting. “We try to make it as smooth as possible,” says Arsenault.

The SAS Institute’s child care center use the Montessori School approach to teaching, which gives children a high level of independence to learn and explore in their own ways. “It fits very nicely with the way SAS thinks about treating their employees,” Arsenault explains. “Children are treated with respect just as employees are treated with respect.”

Brous agrees that company child care programs work best when the children are thought of as an extension of the company. At Publix, the company’s CEO William Crenshaw and president Todd Jones attend the “graduation” of pre-school kids about to enter kindergarten. Seeing the top executives participating in the ritual “means the world,” she says, and when her own son shook hands with Jones while walking across the stage, he told him he wanted to be a “Publix man” when he grows up.

Who can blame him?

ALSO READ: Bag Boy Confidential: My Five Days Working at Publix

Of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, here are the ones that offer on-site child care options, either at headquarters or multiple locations. Click the links for more info on what makes each company a great employer.

No. 5: Quicken Loans

No. 8: SAS Institute

No. 11: Genentech

No. 16: Burns & McDonnell

No. 26: Baptist Health South Florida

No. 34: Plante Moran

No. 36: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

No. 37: USAA

No. 42: Alston & Bird

No. 43: Scripps Health

No. 49: Hyland, creator of OnBase

No. 51: Aflac

No. 66: JM Family Enterprises

No. 68: Publix Super Markets

No. 69: OhioHealth

No. 78: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

No. 79: Atlantic Health System

No. 80: Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

No. 81: Arnold & Porter

No. 82: Cisco Systems

No. 83: Marriott International

No. 88: Capital One Financial

No. 93: WellStar Health System

No. 96: American Express

To see the full list of this year’s best employers in the U.S., visit fortune.com/best-companies, where you can also find job searching tips, career advice, and secrets from recruiters on how to get hired.