A distracting nightmare and a general nuisance. That’s how most might consider a workplace full of employees with their children in tow. But there is a slow-growing trend turning the tables on that attitude. Today, YouInc takes a closer look at how taking your kids to work is doable.
Open-minded businesses are exploring new avenues to keep their staffers happy and retention rates high. Research indicated that employees tend to work harder when they are satisfied. It is not unheard of that professionals seeking a job will opt for robust benefits packages over salary alone. In fact, according to an Aflac WorkForces Report, 68% of workers who are satisfied with their overall benefits packages are also pleased with their jobs, compared with only 5% of employees being content with their career but not their benefits package. If worry, logistics, and caregiver expenses could be eliminated by bringing your child to work with you, wouldn’t taking or keeping that job be the obvious decision?
Concept taking hold
Traditionally, kids spotted in the office was most often a result of a caretaker emergency or inclement weather shutting down schools. Implementing a family friendly work environment is largely unchartered territory and comes with obvious hesitations for any business considering doing so.
However, the concept has been gaining traction in North America since the 2008 recession as companies looked for ways to convince young mothers to return to work earlier, reducing the need to pay for expensive temporary positions. Parenting in the Workplace Institute notes that there are now more than 180 companies in the U.S. that allow children to come to work with their parents every day, ranging from government services to organic body care companies. Most restrict the program to babies or older children who can come to work after school.
A Canadian case study for success
For startup Routine Cream, based in Calgary, Alberta, taking your kids to work is more than an annually observed day for children to see what mom and dad do all day. Owners Pippa and Neige Blair know that supporting one structured parenting in the office day doesn’t automatically create a family-friendly work culture.
Sisters-in-laws Pippa and Neige Blair pose for a photo shoot while their toddlers supervise contently.
The Blair sisters launched their business in 2012 making a name for themselves selling natural deodorant made of 100% clean ingredients. Routine is a family run business and the faces of kids Freya, 2, and Rowen, 8 months, are familiar ones in the office.
“My littlest has been attending meetings since she was 2 weeks old,” said mom and co-founder Pippa. “She loved the carrier from day one, which really helped. My older daughter actually asks to come to work – she brings a backpack full of babies and has the time of her life.”
Pippa’s role within the company is on the accounting, inventory management, and customer service end, so this allows her to work around her kids’ schedules. She involves them as much as she can, and admits that colour sorting is the perfect job for a 2-year-old.
“I power work while they sleep – overlap of afternoon nap schedules is a daily priority!” explains Pippa. “My goal is to not be on my computer or phone in front of them as much as I can.”
Pippa says she’s in the office with her kids on average once a week. Delegating tasks to staff, although a difficult thing to let go of, helps her manage her workload and enables her to focus on her kids fully at the end of the day. She also schedules childcare for the days she knows has to be on the computer.
“I think everyone is happier when they are given the attention they deserve,” said Pippa. “I can work twice as hard, finish twice as fast, and ultimately spend more time with them instead of doing half work/half parenting.”
From her perspective, the advantages of bringing her kids to work outweighs the organizational complications.
“Bringing them along makes them adaptable. They learn excellent socialization skills and manners. It also encourages them to practice independent play, which fosters imagination,” she said of the lessons she hopes the experience will teach her kids. “Creating something, putting your passion and hard work into it, and watching it grow is incredibly rewarding.”
Tips for success
If you’re considering starting a parenting in the workplace program, consider these tips beforehand:
• Decide on the rules of your policy before you alert your staff, such as age and day restrictions. Determine ahead of time if there will be certain times of the days set aside for client meetings that might not work with kids in the office.
• Limit the program to parents who can simultaneously complete job tasks while caring for their children. If babies are being considered, ensure the policy outlines of the program are ideal for babies who are content being in an office environment (some may not be).
• Ensure safety hazards are minimized, and at the very least let your staff know that they are responsible for their children.
• Look at whether setting aside a space or empty office to house kid-related toys and equipment to keep them occupied during the day is feasible. This can also be used as a safe space for parents to take care of their children if there is a behaviorial issue that needs to be addressed away from the rest of the staff or working space.
• Always weigh the pros and cons and consider how your unique workplace operates. A business with individual staff offices may allow for more privacy, but on the other hand, open work environments allow for better supervision.