As parents, we love the idea of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day; as HR professionals, we know it can be a major challenge to normal business operations. Case in point: last year, a kid visiting National Public Radio caused 1 minute and 13 seconds of total dead air by randomly pushing buttons during a tour.
“It was an educational day for us as well as our kids,” said the NPR spokeswoman. We bet.
As Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day approaches, it’s important, first, to decide: Do we really want to do this? And if so, how do we set it up to maximize the educational value while minimizing business disruption and potential safety risks? (Let’s not be like the air traffic controllers who were suspended after letting a child give clearances to jets at JFK Airport.)
We loved these tips from Inc. magazine – consider age-specific programs; incorporate real tasks instead of mere watching; pair kids with their interests (even if that’s a different department than Mom’s or Dad’s). The good folks at the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation have a helpful site for employers, too.
A few of our frequently asked questions about kids at the office:
As an employer, do we have any obligation to participate in Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day?
You really don’t have to do it at all. It’s one of those things that tends to make you look like you’re inhuman if you don’t, but there are simply too many environments where it isn’t safe to have little ones around. We recommend organizations put together a special program for a couple of hours to show little ones what goes on; otherwise, the boredom of just watching Mom or Dad at work could inspire short people to get into a lot of mischief.
What if we don’t want kids in the office?
You just don’t do it! As with most people problems, you’re well-served to have a policy, communicate the policy, and stick to the policy.
Parents who bring their kids spend the day distracted and less productive. Is there any way to ask them to make up the time?
Realistically, you probably can’t. Again, an organized program helps. Having a couple of team members serve as organizers/facilitators will allow everyone else to focus on work.
Do we need to have parents sign a waiver? What happens if one of the kids gets hurt?
You likely don’t need a waiver, but on any materials you produce, you should state that you aren’t liable for anybody getting hurt (unless it really is the company’s fault). If the environment isn’t safe enough for kids, they shouldn’t be there!