Employee Wellness Programs: Why Offer One for Breastfeeding Support?

Creating employee wellness program is important

Creating employee wellness programs that provide breastfeeding support for new families is a great way for the company to win competitive advantage and improve job satisfaction and loyalty of its employees.

Besides, a good lactation support program brings along a number of considerable cost reductions and savings, which are not worth forgoing in this fast- evolving competitive business world.

Legal Requirements for Employee Wellness Programs

According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010, an employer is required to provide:

"...reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk."


"...a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk."

This is the federal law and it provides only a minimum protection of the rights of breastfeeding women in the workplace. The state of Colorado offers nursing mothers an even greater protection by extending their eligibility for break time and private place to pump to 2 years after the child’s birth.

Reduced Cost of Health Care

Case Study:

CIGNA reports annual savings of $240,000 in health care expenses for breastfeeding mothers and children and 62% fewer prescriptions.

Immunological qualities of human breast milk improve health of the babies. This decreases the number of doctor visits and consumption of prescription medications, which over time leads to a significant decrease in the overall cost of health insurance for the company.

One study found that for every 1,000 babies not breastfed, there were 2,033 extra physician visits, 212 extra hospitalization days, and 609 extra prescriptions for three illnesses alone – ear, respiratory, and gastrointestinal infection.

Besides, breastfeeding offers mothers a number of health benefits too, both short- and long-term.

By designing and implementing a well-rounded breastfeeding support employee wellness program, the company paves the way for considerable long-term health care cost reduction.

MUTUAL OF OMAHA found that health care costs for newborns are three times lower for babies whose mothers participate in their company’s lactation program. Per person health care cost was $2,146 higher for an employee who did not participate in the program, with an annual saving of $115,881 in health care claims for breastfeeding mothers and babies.

Lower Rates of Absenteeism

Case Study:

CIGNA reports a 77% reduction in lost work time due to infant illness, with annual savings of $60,000.

As breastfeeding improves overall health of mothers and babies, mothers require less time away from work. As a result, less sick and unpaid time off is being requested.

One-day absences to care for sick children occur more than twice as often for mothers of formula-feeding infants.

Improved Retention and Lower Turnover Rates

Case Study:

 MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S lactation support program increased the retention rate of their maternity workforce to 83% compared to the national average of only 59%.

According to Bliss & Associates Inc., the cost of turnover may reach 150% of the employee's annual compensation, which turns into an enormous amount of money for a company with even a 5% annual rate of turnover.

Providing family-centered employee wellness programs to help employees balance family and work commitments positively impacts retention and turnover rates, which translates into significant savings for the company. A study of multiple companies with lactation support programs found an average retention rate of 94%.

Besides, a good corporate lactation support program may encourage new mothers to return to work earlier, saving company the hassle of hiring part-time employees or outsourcing projects.

Appealing Recruitment Incentive for Women

High-quality employee wellness programs and family support services can be used as a powerful recruitment incentive for young professionals, both male and female. Such services and programs help companies succeed in winning over future job candidates. During the job selection process women of child-bearing age and their partners tend to give their preference to family-friendly businesses.

Improved Employee Loyalty, Morale, Productivity and Job Satisfaction

Case Study:

LA Department of Water and Power found that a lactation support program for mothers, fathers, and partners of male employees made a dramatic difference in reducing turnover and absenteeism rates for both male and female workers. They also found that 83% of employees were more positive about the company as a result of the program, and 67% intended to make it their long-term employer.

As corporate wellness programs become more sophisticated and versatile, young professionals follow environment-friendly and family-oriented companies with higher degree of loyalty and dedication. After having a baby new mothers are more likely to return to work for the same company, if they know their personal breastfeeding goals will be supported and accommodated.

Such companies also enjoy increased productivity, especially if their lactation programs are well-organized and ample break time is provided.

By implementing a corporate breastfeeding support program the company sends its employees a message that their family values are important to the company. Not only does it increase loyalty, such corporate philosophy promotes job satisfaction and improves employee morale.

Positive Public Image of the Company

Companies with corporate lactation support programs receive local, state, and national recognition and media attention, which contributes to the company goodwill.

With all the benefits that a good corporate breastfeeding support program has to offer, implementing one is no longer a luxury, but a business necessity. The sooner the organization realizes that there is a strong demand for family-friendly business solutions, the more benefits it will be able to reap.