Aussie childcare startups Circle In and CareforKids.com.au have partnered up to integrate a childcare search and compare service into Circle In’s employee benefits platform for working parents.
The partnership comes as more businesses bolster their policies supporting working parents, and after the COVID-19 pandemic brought their needs into stark clarity.
All of CareforKids’ corporate offerings will be delivered via the Circle In platform, which offers support and advice to parents through their employers, Circle In co-founder Jodi Geddes tells SmartCompany.
“It’s a mutually beneficial partnership,” she says.
Circle In is able to facilitate CareforKids’ services through its platform, while adding childcare concierge to its own offering.
But the pairing also represents the next stage of growth for both businesses.
For Circle In, it’s about adding value to the platform, and strengthening the value proposition. That boost comes ahead of plans to expand geographically, too.
Currently operational in Australia and New Zealand, Geddes and co-founder Kate Pollard have their sights set on entering the UK and the US next year.
“We’re really moving into that true growth phase of our business,” Geddes says.
And CareforKids is on a similar trajectory, she adds.
“We will grow together.”
“Parents need more support than ever”
The partnership announcement comes at a time where there is more focus than ever on supporting parents in the workplace.
Furniture retailer Brosa and social media startup Linktree have each unveiled progressive new paid parental leave policies, while buy-now-pay-later giant Zip has announced paid leave for any employees who suffer a miscarriage or pregnancy loss.
“Definitely we’re seeing a huge shift,” Geddes says.
Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index recently found some 41% of employees are looking to leave their roles in the next 12 months, she notes.
For employers, staff retention has never been more important.
“If you want to be a great place to work, that starts with having great benefits.”
And some 89% of people will become a parent at some point in their lives, she adds, so businesses are looking for ways to support those people.
Circle In sees a family-friendly future
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic and the mass move to working from home made it impossible for employers to overlook their workers’ families.
Flexible hours and kids in conference calls became the norm, as family life became intertwined with work life, by necessity.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that parents need more support than ever,” Geddes says.
“It’s had a huge impact on families everywhere.”
This week, Zoom chief executive Eric Yuan said he doesn’t see workplaces going back to the “traditional way” of working.
Speaking at the Macquarie Technology Summit, he said he doesn’t think we will see a return to full time work from the office. While accepting that working remotely full time doesn’t work for everyone, he suggested future workplaces will run on a hybrid model.
“In particular given the larger percentage of our workforce are Millennials or Generation Z, they need flexibility,” he reportedly said.
“That’s why hybrid work will become mainstream, that’s the future.”
Geddes, for one, doesn’t believe there’s any going back to the old way of doing things.
“Returning to ‘normal’ for working parents is not the answer,” she says.
“It’s the most progressive companies that are doing something about it”
Having robust policies and support mechanisms for parents in the workplace is good for business.
“But it’s also the right thing to do,” she says.