You needn’t be a VC-funded tech startup or a Fortune 500 company to improve recruiting and retention with on-site daycare.
In the rural Southwestern Virginia, town of Floyd, Red Rooster Coffee has opened Yellow Hen Child Care, a licensed daycare operation located inside the same building as the company’s coffee shop and roasting facility. The company believes it is the first coffee business and the smallest business in Virginia to offer an on-site daycare package.
Yellow Hen is aimed primarily at providing a convenient, affordable and high-quality childcare option for the Red Rooster staff, with a limited number of openings available also to the general public.
The coffee company will subsidize 80 percent of the costs for employees. Including the Yellow Hen staff, Red Rooster currently has a total of 31 employees, both full-time and part-time, including 10 who are the parents of care-age children.
Both the director and the lead teacher at Yellow Hen are Montessori-certified educators and will provide activities modeled after the Montessori educational philosophy to children ranging in age from infancy to kindergarten. The 1,300-square-foot facility, with an additional fenced 2,000 square feet outside, is approved to care for a maximum of 12 children at a time. Currently, nine employee children are enrolled, some part-time and some full-time, along with six more mostly part-time children of non-employees.
“As a parent, I can also say that there are not a lot of options for childcare in rural Appalachia, so we wanted to make this facility very education minded,” Red Rooster Co-Owner Haden Polseno-Hensley told Daily Coffee News. “We got lucky by being able to hire two very talented teachers who are certified in the Montessori method, so our kids are being educated, not just overseen.”
The new facility comes as a number of larger U.S. companies have also recently expanded upon their family-oriented benefits. Campbell Soup and Patagonia, for example, both launched on-site daycare and enhanced family-oriented benefit packages in recent years. Last year, Starbucks announced new employee benefits of up to six weeks of paid gender-blind parental leave, and later added up to 10 days annually of subsidized backup child care resources.
Polseno-Hensley told DCN that between public enrollees and employee contributions, it’s possible Red Rooster could break even on its investment in Yellow Hen within about two years, but that the finances of the operation are practically beside the point.
“The revenue is clearly not our reason for offering it,” said Polseno-Hensley. “The point of offering the day care is to make it possible for single mothers and working mothers to come to work and to feel empowered to keep their careers going while having their child in the same building. Nursing mothers can take breaks throughout the day to be with their babies. Parents of older kids can hear their kids playing in the room next door.”
The company is now looking into the possibility of allowing employees to pay their contribution with pre-tax wages. Later this year, RR will also start offering its employees a Simple IRA with matching contributions.
Red Rooster continues to grow on all other fronts, as well. Its farthest-afield wholesale partner recently came on board in Connecticut; the company recently nabbed a Good Food Award; and its own Grace McCutchan finished in first place in the 2019 Nashville Brewers Cup Qualifying Competition. Red Rooster’s syrup and extract partner brand, JT Copper, has launched wholesale and retail bottle sales throughout Virginia and DC; and its Swallowtail Tea offshoot has rolled out an herbal wellness line and will soon add a chai tea concentrate for wholesale and retail.
At the helm of it all, and a parent himself, Polseno-Hensley also loves that he can peek in and watch his own kids playing through a window from his Red Rooster workplace. Although even from a pragmatic standpoint, the new employee benefit still makes sense.
“We’ve invested a ton of time and money into our staff to make them coffee experts in a region where you’d have to go 100 miles to find anyone else with the experience and skills of some of our top staff,” said Polseno-Hensley. “I want those people working for me forever, both because I love them as people and because I’ve invested in them. If they want to have babies, I don’t want that to be a barrier to achieving their career goals.”