Last month was Bring In Your Parents day. Did you get the memo? This is the annual event started by professional social network LinkedIn that has spawned a wave of copycats.
Last year, 50 companies were known to have taken part and, this year, the Financial Times and fashion retailer ASOS were noteworthy participants.
Parents are invited to be flies on the wall, privy to the inner workings of their offspring’s workplaces. Some companies lay on catering and speeches, others leave the shepherding to their employees.
What’s the point?
It all started when LinkedIn ran a survey which revealed one third of parents don't understand what their children do for work. Probably because jobs these days can no longer be distilled into a single, palatable sentence and titles like ‘solutions consultant’, ‘coding ninja’ or ‘innovation sherpa’ are ten a penny.
The case for involving parents is manifold. Employees come with a network, richly familial, that will have had a bearing on their education and career decisions. For many, that network helps people make life-changing decisions well into adulthood - decisions such as whether to leave a job or stick it out and try to make it better. Why wouldn’t you extend a hand to the network that means so much to your employees?
Secondly, the very process of showing someone whose opinion you care about around your workplace provokes a renewed sense of pride. Financial Times layout editor, Francesca Jakobi, said, after hosting her father at work: “I think it made me appreciate my father more - it also made me appreciate my colleagues.” Her colleague, work & careers writer Emma Jacobs, said: “Showing my stepfather around the office made me fall a bit in love with my job.”
Refreshing our appreciation for what we do and the skills we’ve acquired – both individually and as part of a well-oiled machine – is sometimes as simple as standing back and taking stock. Another benefit to sharing your workplace with family.
The third benefit is employee engagement. Your people are far more likely to feel an emotional connection to your brand on the day their bring their parents to work. You’ll see that connection play out on social media - it’s no accident this event comes with its own hashtag #BIYP (Bring In Your Parents).
LinkedIn says: “Employees who feel valued and happy are more productive and the support they receive from parents can play an important part in job satisfaction. That’s difficult when many parents don’t know enough about what their child does, or if they are giving the right advice.”
Fourth, is experience. However sheltered we think our parents are, our mums and dads have been around a lot longer than us, and may be able to provide some insight or pass on some wisdom or intelligence that benefits your business.
Finally, there’s value in taking things offline occasionally. Many employees now inhabit digital workplaces, communicating and collaborating through technology. While this facilitates remote working, which has wellbeing and productivity benefits, face time becomes more precious. At Claromentis, everyone has the option to work flexibly as often as they want but we’ve noticed that when everyone in the business gets together, we see an uplift in engagement in the days leading up to, during, and after the event.
Of course, it’s not all about parents. In the US, Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day is an annual April event which has been running for 24 years. More than 37 million Americans at 3.5million workplaces participate, and businesses in Canada and Australia take part too.
The organisers say the event shows children “the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future, and allowing them to begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success.”
If your core values include being a responsible and socially-aware employer, then inviting children to your workplace is a good way to demonstrate it.
No one ever said you shouldn’t mix business with family - and the arguments for marrying the two are compelling.