Even though its employees faced rising patient volumes in recent months, providing subsidized or free child care enabled Adventist to increase the level of care it could provide to patients. “It was really a no-brainer that we had to alleviate the question for employees of, do I serve the community or do I take care of my children?,” D’Uva said.

The need to serve communities is also familiar to Home Depot, said McKinley, given the chain’s experience operating during times of crisis and natural disasters. The company’s stores were classified as essential businesses during the pandemic. But to carry out that mission, McKinley said the company gave front-line workers “complete discretion” on their availability to work. In some cases, that meant workers who usually worked the day shift moved to the night shift.

“Families are feeling pressure for juggling work, school, safety … it becomes almost messy and confusing at times,” she added. That observation led Home Depot’s HR team to organize its child care resource center to ensure parents could find options that best fit their personal needs. “I think that’s been very well received.”

But not all employers are able to offer the same level of benefits or support to employees. Financial fears could play a role, McKinley said, but Home Depot has found that taking care of associates ends up taking care of customers in the long run. “For other organizations, that feels very risky if that’s not your internal culture,” she added. “But … if they take care of their people, they drive retention, they drive their associates bringing their best selves to work, they drive productivity by actually backing up and taking care of their associates’ needs.”

Additionally, not all cultural initiatives need to be expensive. “It’s not an all or nothing,” D’Uva said. “There are activities that are essentially free to an organization.”

Adventist, for example, leveraged its employee assistance program that had already been providing child care resources and information to employees early on in the pandemic to direct them to services they could take advantage of themselves, she added. “I encourage you to think of the resources that you already have at your disposal.”