Here’s 1 Thing That Keeps Parents At Work

Every working parent has to consider the cost of childcare. A mouse has it figured out.

Imagine this: you pay $10 a day for childcare and your employer allows you to choose who you want – one of their partners or even a neighborhood friend.

There are ready-made programs for every school break – as well as emergency childcare. Plus, summer camp is on site.

And your employer lets you adjust your work schedule so one of you can drop off or pick up at school. You’d probably never want to leave to work anywhere else, right?

This isn’t some post-school break fever dream. It came out of the last conversation we had at Walt Disney World, with a server at the restaurant in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Our trip had already been amazing in the way Disney hopes your visit will be. It was our youngest daughter’s first time, and her older sisters were having a blast, too. My wife and I were relaxing and not working. We went on rides from “It’s a Small World” to “Space Mountain” (my 6-year-old’s favorite). We had good food at Epcot and fun food around the parks. (Dole Whip, anyone?) Every Disney employee we met in the parks was friendly and helpful. No complaints (except it is crazy expensive!)

With one meal left on our Disney dining plan, we went to check out the Polynesian, which we kept passing on the monorail. Our server Elizabeth was as great as all the other Disney employees.

At the end, my wife asked her what it was like working for Disney and the floodgates opened.

It’s amazing for a working mom, she said. Her husband, who worked at a different Disney resort, was able to arrange his schedule to drop their daughter off at school. She arranged her schedule to do pick up. She also worked Monday to Friday from breakfast through lunch, which, she pointed out, was pretty unheard of in the restaurant business.

While new employees generally worked nights and weekends, with some seniority, she and her husband were able to pick their schedule. They could also move within the resort to other positions. She has her eye on Chef Mickey’s, which is a character-themed restaurant that filled my youngest daughter’s eyes with awe when her favorite character – Donald Duck – waddled over to us on the first night.

“I’m never leaving here,” Elizabeth said. I don’t know how well Disney pays, but talking to Elizabeth it was clear that her salary wasn’t top of mind. It was the benefits that allowed her and her husband to earn a living, be parents and know their childcare costs were manageable.

Now it’s entirely on brand for Disney World to support working parents. But Elizabeth emoting about never wanting to leave? That wasn’t because of diners like us tipping well. It was because Disney realized that offering childcare is an economic benefit to the employer as much as to the employee.

Repeat: childcare is a retention tool.

There’s nothing Mickey Mouse about that.