How much do your parents know about your work? According to a recent LinkedIn survey, probably not much. The survey revealed one in three parents don't have a clue what their children do to earn a living, despite the fact that the millennial generation (those born between 1982 and the early 2000s) tend to rely on parents for support and advice, particularly where their careers are concerned.
To help bridge the gap, LinkedIn is hosting the first-ever Bring in Your Parents Day on November 7th, giving parents the opportunity to see first-hand what their offspring's work days look like.
Richard Hungerford, CEO at BrightKit, a Vancouver-based social media company, immediately jumped on board. "We often joked about our parents not knowing what we do so we felt like this was a perfect [opportunity] to explain what we do on a daily basis and show off our work," says Hungerford, himself a Millennial.
The idea began when Danielle Restivo, a corporate communications specialist at LinkedIn, received an email from her mother asking her to write a simple paragraph to explain her job so she could tell her friends what her daughter did. Shortly after, several of Restivo's colleagues shared they'd had similar conversations with parents who felt left in the dark about their work lives.
Restivo says entrepreneurs like Hungerford who are working in new fields such as social media are most excited about the day as parents often express confusion about these emerging careers. "It feels like there's a disconnect when we talk about work," says Hungerford, arguing parents may be better able to dole out career advice if they understood what their children did at work. "Parents' role is to be supportive and I think once parents understand a little bit about more what we do, they can act as a support network," says Hungerford.
LinkedIn held a trial Bring in Your Parents Day in their 400-person Dublin office and says with 100 parents in attendance, the results were incredibly positive. Employees whose parents had graced their offices said future conversations about their careers were much deeper as parents not only had a greater understanding of the jobs their children did but had met some of their coworkers and felt better able to ask astute questions and give advice.
As a small-business owner, Hungerford says bonding with family over work is especially important. "We spend a lot of time at work and for a lot of us work is really our lives and our passion," he says. Inviting parents into the office may even help small businesses like Hungerford’s grow. "One of the things parents do really well is connect us. Parents [may] say one of my friends has a company that could really use this and I never thought of that before because I didn't know what you did," says Hungerford.
Tips for hosting a Bring Your Parents to Work Day:
1. Make it educational.
The plan at BrightKit is to have parents come in to the office in the early afternoon, listen to a presentation about the company and offer employees the opportunity to present various projects they work on before going on a tour of the office.
2. Show parents work can be fun, too.
BrightKit's office is equipped with a lounge with comfortable couches and a ping pong table. Parents will be encouraged to challenge their children to a game and relax over a beer afterwards. "It's nice for them to know that it's not all work, even if we're at the office for 12 hours a day," says Hungerford.
3. Take it online.
Parents who don't live in the area can connect through social media. Half of BrightKit’s employees are international and have invited their parents to join the festivities via Skype.