OnCue Finds adding lactation rooms helps employee retention

Aug 18, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY – When OnCue spokeswoman Laura Aufleger visits the Oklahoma City area, she knows there’s a dedicated place to prepare her infant daughter’s meals.
The Stillwater-based convenience store chain is among at least 178 state businesses that have dedicated spaces for lactating mothers. The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Nancy Bacon said providing room at work for pumping breast milk benefits employers as well as employees.
Aufleger nurses her three-month-old child and recently returned to work from maternity leave.
OnCue’s average employee age is 28 and executives were interested in creating an atmosphere with room for advancement. Attracting and retaining workers is an important part of that, said human resources vice president Lisa Thomas. Executives realized the need in 2013, and they built the first one that year. There are about 10 of 30 stores that have dedicated lactation rooms in the Oklahoma City area.
“As we started hiring more employees and saw the need arise, we wanted to make sure we could accommodate their needs, to the best of our ability,” Thomas said. “It gives them a sense of comfort to provide food for their child and to know they can come back to work.”
The rooms are private and have a table or countertop with electrical outlets, a chair and a dedicated refrigerator. Lactating employees can express breast milk or can breast-feed their child in those rooms. The stores without drive-thru lanes have those rooms, because it was easiest to incorporate that into the design, Aufleger said.
Thomas said she’s received positive feedback from employees and morale has improved.
Before the lactation rooms were implemented, OnCue would allow employees to go home or to day care facilities to breast-feed, and on a rare occasion, allow a caregiver to bring the baby to the store.
Thomas said there are costs to add the lactation rooms.
“But that doesn’t outweigh the morale (benefits),” she said. “If you’re making the long-term path much more achievable and when you’re trying to expand family, it is worth it.”
Bacon, the state Health Department’s maternal child health service nutrition consultant, said she was thrilled to learn about what OnCue provides its employees. The company likely qualifies for Oklahoma’s breast-feeding-friendly work-site designation. In addition to having a private, dedicated space, a business must also have a policy. Bacon can help employers write policies if they don’t have one.
There are 178 designated work sites, up from 167 last year. Lactation rooms aren’t required by law, but employers are required to provide lactating women reasonable break time to express breast milk in a private space that’s not a bathroom stall.
Studies estimate that for every $1 invested in promoting breast-feeding, employers save $3 in decreased illnesses and reduced employee absenteeism. Breast milk is the healthiest nutrition for babies, so breast-fed infants get sick less often.
“It’s a great way to attract valuable employees,” Bacon said.

Source: http://journalrecord.com/2017/08/17/oncue-finds-adding-lactation-rooms-helps-employee-retention/