Finance giant Morgan Stanley has revealed that it has set up near-site childcare facilities to serve two of its biggest UK offices, with staff at the firm’s Canary Wharf HQ and its Glasgow hub able to drop their children off to be looked after during the working day.

As an official statement notes: “Parents are able to visit their child at any point during the day, take them out for a walk, or spend time in the dedicated breast-feeding rooms and soft-play zones. The nursery facilities include a spacious indoor playground, complete with climbing frames and trees, and toddler-sized cookery stations. All meals and snacks are cooked on site and menus are checked externally by nutritionists to ensure they fulfil the Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines set in England and Scotland.”

To run the units, Morgan Stanley has appointed specialist childcare provider Bright Horizons – which found in a recent survey of families with access to workplace nurseries that 90% of them would consider continued access to such facilities as important in their decision to return to work after maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Morgan Stanley’s HR chief for the EMEA region Tamsin Rowe said that her firm “is a leading advocate for family friendly workplaces and is strongly committed to supporting working parents through a variety of programmes”. She added: “We are delighted to offer another resource to enable our employees to better balance work and family.”

Bright Horizons managing director James Tugendhat said: “We are delighted that Morgan Stanley has taken such decisive steps to support working parents, for whom near-site childcare can be an essential lifeline. It is impossible to overstate the impact of an understanding and supportive employer on employee wellbeing.”

What sorts of positive impacts – whether in terms of performance or other areas – can workplace childcare facilities bring to employees and organisations alike?

The Institute of Leadership & Management's head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “Workplace crèches have been around for many years as a partial solution to assist mothers’ continued inclusion in the workforce – and, for many parents, it’s fantastic to have their children so close by. It eliminates the need for extensive travel to a childcare facility that’s several miles away, and alleviates that huge pressure – especially if you’re using public transport – to get to the pickup place by a set time. So, for working parents, it’s clear that such arrangements are a significant benefit.”

However, she explains, “children need crèches for only a relatively short part of their lives – and it’s important to remember that the need to find childcare facilities isn’t the sole source of stress and worry that employees routinely face. For example, elder care is another, major responsibility with large logistical and emotional impacts. And as children grow older, they will require continued attention – especially during their teenage years, when they will typically be wrestling with angst.

“Any firm that sets up onsite or near-site childcare facilities is sending out a great message about the need to make the workplace more family friendly. That said, families are not comprised entirely of infant children – and there are plenty of other areas of life that present workers with anxiety.”

Cooper adds: “Morgan Stanley’s initiative is certainly a step in the right direction, and well done to them for acknowledging the issue. But there are broader links here with mental health, and if we want to be great employers and limit the sources of worry that trouble our employees’ working lives, then we have to look at all the areas in which those tensions may arise. Many of which affect workers who don’t have any children at all.”

For further thoughts on the healthy workplace, check out these learning resources from the Institute

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