Following my earlier post about “Take Your Dog to Work Day,” I recently heard about another event taking place on November 10, 2017 – “Bring In Your Parents Day.” My initial reaction was utter disbelief. Have we really come to the point where helicopter parents are officially invited to buzz the workplace? I’ve had a number of clients whose employees’ parents have tried to intervene in work issues on behalf of their offspring (typically of the millenial generation). Unless the employee’s health condition required that someone speak for them, I have advised my clients that they can (gently but firmly) insist that the employee’s parent not be involved in the employment relationship. (And, frankly, if the employee is not embarrassed by having their mommy call their boss, they should be!!!)
I also was somewhat perturbed by the continuing subversion of the entire “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” premise – which was to support girls’ sense of self in the workplace. In a society where sex discrimination issues in the workplace are still part of our national conversation, I think that initiatives like this can be meaningful. As I discussed in the prior post, this clearly doesn’t translate to bringing your dog to work. Nor should it apply to parents, whose sense of self should (hopefully) already have been developed.
So what is the point of this event? Well, it was the brainchild of LinkedIn. In a 2016 nbcnews.com article, “Friday is ‘Bring Your Parents to Work’ Day – So They Can Finally See What You Do,” one of the creators of the event, LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher, said that she and colleagues were talking about how their parents didn’t understand what they do, and they felt that they could do something about it. LinkedIn actually commissioned a study, which found 1 in 3 parents shared this lack of understanding. This led to the first “Bring In Your Parents Day” in 2014. And since then, other companies, including Amazon and Google (according to a 2016 Today.com article), have joined in.
On their webpage about this event, LinkedIn describes how employees, their parents, and companies all benefit from participation. For employees, this will “let [parents] feel part of your achievements and say thank you for everything they have done to help you so far.” For parents, the event is “an opportunity to learn more about what your child does and see all the reasons you have to be proud…” For companies, LinkedIn suggests that, “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.” Which, according to LinkedIn, allowing parents to come to work may help address. And LinkedIn offers a toolkit to help companies implement this initiative.
So, stepping back from my initial disdain, I can see where this event might be a positive action, particularly in a millennial-heavy workforce. But is it the right action in your workplace? Well, that definitely depends. And is it the right action for every employee? Again, that depends. Perhaps the same goals can be accomplished by having a good conversation between the employee and the parents.
And I do worry a bit about those helicopter parents, who may feel emboldened to become more involved in their child’s work life. The Today.com article quotes one parent as saying, “I’ve just always loved being involved in everything she’s done since she was a little girl, so to have the opportunity to continue doing so in her professional life is just thrilling to me.” I don’t know what she actually meant by that, but, as I noted at the outset, it’s not appropriate for parents to get too involved in their child’s professional life. Land those helicopters, folks!