Businesses Invite Parents to Watch Their Kids Work

By Kathy Gurchiek Nov 5, 2013
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In a twist to Bring Your Child to Work Day, parents may find themselves guests of their offspring’s employers in the LinkedIn-sponsored Bring In Your Parent Day (BIYP) on Nov. 7, 2013.

The initiative encourages organizations in 14 countries to “bridge the gap between professionals and their parents in the world of work” by inviting parents to the workplace for a couple of hours, preferably at the start or end of the day. The Internet business networking organization hosted a similar event in August 2013 for nearly 50 parents at its international headquarters in Dublin, according to the company’s website.

One of the aims of BIYP Day is to give parents a better understanding of what their progeny’s work involves.

“Over the last 20 years or so, there’s been a dramatic change in the working environment,” said Wendy Murphy, LinkedIn’s HR director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, in a LinkedIn video. “We believe that parents have a huge amount of wisdom and knowledge to share with their kids, but if they don’t understand what they actually do, it’s hard for them to impart that knowledge.”

A 2013 survey for LinkedIn conducted from July 30 through Aug. 14 found that careers such as user interface designer, data scientist and social media manager were in the top 10 of most misunderstood jobs.

Other such jobs were actuary, sociologist, sub-editor, public relations manager, investment banker, radio producer and software developer.

Survey respondents were in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, The Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the U.K. and U.S. Among the 16,102 adults surveyed, 12,015 were parents and 7,683 were parents of workers. Parents in France (71 percent) were most unfamiliar with the specifics of their children’s jobs, followed by parents in the U.K., Sweden, Italy and Germany.

Regus, which supplies remote-worker clients access to 1,600 buildings and accompanying support staff and IT, is a sponsor and participating business of BIYP Day.

Grant Greenberg, the company’s communications manager, sees the event as a morale booster and a way to create a sense of community among its employees and clients, all of whom are invited to participate.

“People are excited to show their parents where they work; there’s a sense of pride that comes with your job and where you work,” he told SHRM Online, noting that 150 of its centers in the U.S., Canada, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Germany and The Netherlands will open its doors to parents.

“I would think our younger clients would be more apt to bring in their parents,” Greenberg said, given that LinkedIn’s survey found that the newer jobs “were the ones parents didn’t understand.” He also observed that “a lot of parents don’t get the idea of remote working.”

That’s not the case for Gavin Donovan, 26, who has been Regus’ social media specialist since February 2012. Both his parents work from their home offices and use Regus’ multiple centers when necessary.

The younger Donovan, who works out of offices within the Dallas/Fort Worth area, will bring his father, Peter, to a Regus company center in Dallas on Nov. 7.

While it’s not his first job, he’s looking forward to showing his dad “all the aspects of social media I manage for Regus: social sales, customer service, engagement” and the like, Donovan said in an e-mail.

“I consider my father my mentor, so I always go to him with any questions about business,” he wrote. “Plus, it will be great to hear what feedback my dad has on my activities.”

Bringing parents to work is not a new idea; Google hosted two “Take Your Parents to Work” days at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters earlier in 2013, according to USA Today, which reported that 4,000 parents of the search engine’s global staff have participated in similar events.

And involving the family in the workplace is common in some cultures. Ernst & Young has regularly hosted a Family Day open house to demystify the workplace for family members at its offices in India, where it’s not unusual for candidates to need parental approval before accepting a job offer.

However, not all HR professionals agree that there is a business case for BIYP Day and similar programs, some of whom see it as disruptive to the business day and not adding to an organization’s bottom line.

“I can't see a reason to do this at all,” commented Malinda Hallett, SPHR, HR manager at BEA Inc., in a lively SHRM LinkedIn discussion on the topic. “I will strongly stand up for the value that employer-sponsored social interaction brings to the workplace, but it has to tie back in to a comprehensive business case.”

Though not limited to younger employees, BIYP Day may be a nod to the close ties that Millennials (those born between 1981 and early 2000s) have with their parents.

As HR Magazine reported in October 2013, human resource professionals can benefit from that familial closeness. In the article, Neil Howe, author of Millennials in the Workplace: Human Resource Strategies for a New Generation (LifeCourse Associates, 2010), recommended that managers “use the parents as a resource. Let them join the conversation” through activities such as Bring Your Parents to Work Day.

Twitter conversations about BIYP Day can be found at #LinkedIn #BIYP.

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor for HR News.

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