I never attended even one Take Your Child To Work day. Unfortunately with two parents in the military, that’s just not happening. There’s really no safe place to keep a kid busy on base besides the commissary (aka grocery store) and the playground. It’s undoubtedly not entertaining to hang out in one of those standard issue cubicle farms.
While I was stuck in school, other kids went to see their parent’s place of work. They went to hospitals and factories, pharmacies and wherever else to see what exactly everyone got dressed up for in the morning. The next day, they would all report back with all of this excitement and energy I’ve never seen adults use to talk about work. The lunches and even the lectures seemed a bit more interesting in a high-rise and a necktie.
What I didn’t experience on Take Your Child To Work Day was made up for in my everyday routine. Growing up on an Army base, every minute was full on indoctrination. Everything we did was in the context of my Mom’s work: where we lived, what we did on weekends, who we hung out with. For example, when most people get promoted, the entire family doesn’t show up and stand at attention while the Commanding Officer rolled into the ceremony. We did.
I guess the Army did something right, though, because I was convinced I would join the Army, too. I didn’t really even understand what life would be like outside of this world of barracks and brats. You would have laughed at the confusion on my face the first time I signed up for healthcare and went to a civilian doctor. I didn’t know any other life. Without even realizing it, I was convinced it was somewhere I wanted to work too.
The whole idea of Bring Your Child To Work Day is to drive employee engagement. I get it. You want to show people the way and let their kids see why Mommy and Daddy swear so much at home.
But why aren’t you trying to recruit?
Here’s a twist on Take Your Child To Work Day: create a place your kids want to work.
In all seriousness, I think we’ve got it wrong if we’re all about snacks and activities instead of recruiting on Take Your Child To Work Day. Here’s why.
When kids can see the joy on their parent’s faces about work, they’ll want to work for you too. I accept that’s playing the long game at best. Who knows if your company will even be around when your kid is old enough to work.
But how amazing would it be if it worked?
Look at the legacy families in the military, the police, teachers. These kids followed in their parent’s footsteps because they saw passion and dedication. Beyond what they saw of their parents at home, they realized that work and life weren’t separate. We grew up on bases, in police departments and classrooms, and we saw first hand what work was. Kids like me who grew up with parents in the service were convinced early on that we belong there, too.
With that kind of faith and buy-in that early on, we can recruit generations of talent – not just one person.