In an effort to help employees who are parents and also recruit new workers, Lexmark International has broken ground on a child care center at its Lexington headquarters.
The move comes as the company also has opened an on-site wellness clinic to help employees stay healthier.
"We're trying to make our Lexington campus here a better place to work," said CEO Paul Rooke.
The company, which has 2,300 workers and is one of the city's largest employers, hopes to open the child care center next fall. It's designed to accommodate as many as 185 children ages 6 weeks to 6. Sign-ups have not begun.
The center also is expected to hold an additional 50 school-age children during the summer.
"That was a big pressure point," said Paula Anderson, director of human resources/corporate communications. "What do you do with your kids during snow days, winter vacations and during summer? So we're building off to itself a couple of rooms where we could do a pre-teen lounge kind of feel.
"We've got the park across the street, too, so we think we can run pretty effective summer camps."
The company has contracted with Bright Horizons Family Solutions to run the center. The national firm's client list includes Toyota and the on-site child care center at its sprawling Georgetown assembly complex.
Anderson and Jeri Isbell, Lexmark's vice president of human resources, toured the Toyota child care center and those at companies including Yum Brands in Louisville and Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.
At Yum, the pair found employees often check on their children throughout the day at the company's two on-site child care centers.
"It was fun to sit and watch the parents come back and forth," Anderson said.
Isbell emphasized the convenience for parents to be so close if their children become sick, or to visit and share lunch.
"The proximity is very much a relaxer for people," she said. "It's just the ability to know that whatever happens, you're going to be able to get to your child."
That will make Lexmark a more attractive employer, they said.
"If you're recruiting for talent, particularly software right now, but all talent in all fields, you have to be able to differentiate yourself in some way," Anderson said. "It's highly competitive out there for talent right now."
The company also is looking to do that with its wellness clinic, which opened earlier this month inside existing space. The location replaces a modest travel clinic that had been available on site to offer shots required for overseas trips, Isbell said.
The new clinic offers a full-time doctor, although "the point is not to replace a primary care physician," Anderson said.
"It's a lot about convenience and time and help," Isbell said. "I know myself, if I've got a sore throat, I would really question if I'm going to take two hours out of my day to go get a strep swab.
"But now it's a little hike over to the wellness center."
The clinic's primary goal is coaching and preventive health care. There is no cost for visits related to those issues, which include weight management, cholesterol control, smoking cessation and so forth. For illness visits, there's a $20 co-pay.
Anderson said the emphasis on health coaching follows the company's goal to get workers healthier.
When part of the Legacy Trail was established through Lexmark's campus, that led to many employees biking to work.
"We had to figure out bike storage," she said.
There also has been discussion about adding exercise facilities. There are tennis courts and other outside activities at the company's park outside of New Circle Road, but there are no dedicated indoor exercise sites.
The closest is the North Lexington Family YMCA, which sits on 20 acres of land Lexmark donated to the organization in 1998. The company also contributed $600,000 for the building.
"There is a wish by employees to have on-site fitness, but we haven't figured that out yet," Anderson said.
Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.