Bring Your Child to Work Day

The HR Pros / April 2015

Thursday, April 23rd is National Bring Your Child to Work Day (BYCTWD). This day was originally designed to bring daughters to work to teach young women about careers and occupational opportunities. Today, this has evolved into a learning event to teach all children about the workplace and to give them a better understanding of what Mom or Dad does all day.Before you decide to participate in this learning event, it is important to take several issues into consideration, including productivity, client service, and safety.

Productivity – Productivity will certainly take a major hit on Bring Your Child to Work Day. Much of each employee’s day will be spent teaching and providing supervision to their child and other children in the workplace. Therefore, it is important for senior management to be willing to sacrifice much of the day’s productivity in exchange for the learning opportunity for children and the organization’s demonstration of commitment to family.

Customer/Client Service – With the hit in productivity comes the potential for unhappy clients and customers. Thus, it is very important to ensure that critical customer-facing positions will have adequate coverage throughout the day. It is also important to communicate to customers/clients that the organization is participating in the national BYCTWD, so they may be more lenient and understanding if their customer experience is somewhat diminished on that day. This may be achieved through signs in entranceways, messages on the company’s internet site, messages on e-mail accounts, and messages on the voicemail system.

Safety/Liability – If your organization has moderate to substantial safety hazards, participating in BYCTWD may not be for you. The company could very well be liable for injuries to employees’ children on the premises, so it is very important to consider this exposure prior to allowing children in the workplace. Use your common sense, and if your physical work environment is not suitable for children, consider a company picnic in conjunction with a supervised tour of the workplace, rather than a full day with children in the workplace. If your organization does not contain obvious safety hazards, it is still a good idea to have each employee who wishes to bring a child to work sign a release agreement.

With careful planning, Bring Your Child To Work Day can be a huge morale builder for employees and solidify the company’s commitment to work/life balance and employees’ families.

For the day to be a success, it will take a substantial amount of planning. The children who come may range in age from toddlers to teenagers and employees may get frustrated trying to work and teach (or at least entertain) their children. Therefore, we recommend varying hours for bring your child to work day based on the age of the child. Here is a proposed schedule:

  • Under 2 years of Age: May not participate
  • Ages 2 – 7:  8:00am – 10:00am
  • Ages 8 – 12:  8:00am – 1:00pm
  • Ages 13+:  8:00am – 5:00pm

In order to combat boredom, you may want to have events planned for children to attend throughout the day besides simply shadowing employees. Here are a few ideas:

  • Art/Poster Contest – Depending on the age of the children, consider placing art supplies at workstations or in a conference room. You may even want to purchase a poster board for each child and encourage them to decorate it with ideas of what they want to be when they grow up. You may even have a panel designated to judge the posters in a contest and have prizes for the winners.
  • Interviews – Consider making a list of interview questions for children to ask different workers. Then have them walk around and pick a few employees to interview. Some good interview questions may include:
    • What things do you do while at work?
    • What is the main purpose of your job?
    • Why is your job important to the company?
    • How long have you worked here?
    • When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
    • Is what you are doing now in any way similar to what you wanted to be?
    • What is your favorite thing about your job?

  • Trivia – A trivia game with questions about the company, the industry, and the business world as a whole is often a fun activity. It also allows the children to be separated from their parents for a little while. We recommend dividing the children into trivia teams that include both younger and older children on each team. Each team should sit together and come up with a team name. Trivia seems to work best when each team gets two to three minutes to discuss their answer with their other team members and then submit it to the facilitator in writing to earn points. Ask one of your employees who regularly goes to a trivia night at a local restaurant or bar to help you with the planning of the trivia game. Don’t forget prizes for the top finishing teams.
  • Scavenger Hunt – Another game that separates the parents from their children for a while is a scavenger hunt. You will want to divide the children into scavenger hunt teams that include both younger and older children. Then, you give each team a list (generally the lists are in different order) of things in the office they must find, collect or do. The first team back with a completed list wins the scavenger hunt. Prizes for the fastest finishing teams will be very popular.
  • Lunch – You may want to consider a lunch function catered in the workplace.
  • Technology Tour – Especially the older kids may enjoy a technology tour of the company. This is a good way to get your IT team involved in the day. Showing them the company’s IT servers, systems, and programs is often a big hit, especially with teenagers. If you have a fun technology project or game that they may work on during or after the tour, older kids may enjoy the opportunity to get their hands on some of the company’s technology.

With careful planning, BYCTWD can be a huge morale builder for employees and solidify the company’s commitment to work/life balance and employees’ families. If marketed correctly, it also has the potential to show your customers, clients, and other stakeholders your dedication to family, community, and education. So weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks, and then consider participating in 2015’s National Bring Your Child to Work Day.

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