Have your parents ever asked you what you do at work? Do you think your parents understand what you actually do in your job? According to LinkedIn research, 35% of parents confess that they’re not completely familiar with their children’s work, 59% would like to know more about their job, and 50% say they could benefit their children by better understanding what they do during their working day. Not only that, but a study shows that it could have benefits for the organisational culture of companies.

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Initiative: “Bring your parents to work”.

Companies that are involved in the family reality of their employees tend to offer programmes, proposals and initiatives, especially to those employees with minor children.

A clear example is the family day, where employees can bring their children to the office to learn about their parents’ work, which increases parental commitment and loyalty to the organisation, while enhancing parents’ understanding of their work and broadening their children’s future work considerations.

However, more and more organisations are going beyond offering policies, programmes and initiatives just for employees with children under the age of 18, and are broadening and opening up to other groups, as we recently saw in another article. For example, some companies organise orientation sessions for employees’ children, in which people from different occupations and departments in the company tell them about their professional experience and what the work they do means to them.

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In this line, a pilot experiment with unexpected results was the “Bring in Your Parents to Work” initiative, launched in 2013 on LinkedIn under the name BIYP (Bring in Your Parents).

The aim of the initiative was to include the younger generations (Generation Y, and Generation X) in the family-friendly programmes, as it was observed that they had difficulties explaining the nature of their jobs to their parents, especially among those employed in emerging sectors, as technological disruption has brought along many current jobs which did not exist just a generation ago. Clear examples are Social Media Manager, App Developer, or Data Scientist…


“Younger generations find it difficult to explain the nature of their jobs to their parents”.


The benefits of involving parents in their children’s work

In response to this new “Bring your parents to work” initiative, two leading researchers, Alexandra Beauregard of Birbeck University, and Karin A. King of the London School of Economics, set out to empirically study the effects of this pilot, and to better understand the implications for organisations, employees, and their parents.

To do so, they shared a questionnaire with both employees and their parents at two points in time, first, one week before the ‘Bring your parents to work’ event, and second, one month after the event. The sample consisted of 111 employees from six organisations located in the UK, Ireland, France, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, as well as 37 parents. Six face-to-face interviews were also conducted with UK employees, and 10 telephone interviews with HR managers in six countries.

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Employee outcomes.

The results indicated that, after the “Bring your parents to work” initiative took place, there was a significant increase in:

  • Employee engagement.
  • Their perceived ability to solve problems.
  • The enthusiasm and vitality of the workers.

In addition, some organisations used the occasion to give recognition and certificates to employees while their parents were present, which increased both trust and commitment. HR managers also confirmed that such an initiative increased employee loyalty, as employees perceived that the organisation appreciated both them and the contributions they made.


Parental outcomes

Visiting children’s workplaces improved parents’ understanding of their children’s jobs, which led to greater emotional support from parents to their children, as well as increased conversations related to their jobs.

Understanding work responsibilities and the pace of those responsibilities enabled some parents to be more supportive of their children, especially those living at home. In turn, the initiative facilitated new conversations about children’s work, as jobs became less intangible and more understandable to parents.


Results in organisations

Parents’ participation in the event increased employees’ adherence with their organisation, as well as increased willingness on the part of parents to promote the organisation to outsiders. In a way, parents became new ambassadors for the organisations.

On the one hand, parents became new brand advocates, proud of the companies’ successes, and started to keep up with news about it independently through the organisation’s website. No less interestingly, parents emerged as new ambassadors of the organisation for their own children, recommending them to continue working there.

Therefore, the researchers were able to value and measure the impact of a seemingly simple initiative of inviting employees’ parents to visit their children’s workplace. As the study showed, this initiative had an impact not only on the employees themselves (trust and engagement) and their parents (emotional support and new conversations), but also on the organisations themselves (adherence and new ambassadors). It’s often not necessary to think of grand strategies to put people within a company at ease, but to think about policies and initiatives in an honest and open way, and if possible, as in this case, to measure their impact.