Kronos celebrated its 10th annual Take Your Child To Work Day event last year, a week before the official national day. This year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day is April 27, and again we’re celebrating nine days before – which will become more relevant in a moment.
Over the past decade we learned a lot from the kids and our volunteers to ensure our annual event is a positive and enriching experience for all involved. In 2016, we hosted more than 90 children at our global headquarters in Chelmsford, Mass., while also running concurrent events in our Indiana, California, and Canadian offices. Our 2017 theme revolves around aviation and STEM: “Take Flight: Imagination Soars at Take Your Child to Work Day.”
We’ve never had a single complaint from a parent or teacher for taking children out of class because we create a day filled with learning and interactive activities. Here are some things we’ve learned over the years that should help you plan a successful day:
Make it an event, and have a theme: Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day should not be an excuse to have kids hang around and watch their parents fill out TPS reports. That’s a distraction for the parent and torture for the child (unless, of course, the parent is a rocket scientist, video game tester, or zookeeper). So, step one is to organize a day filled with different events that match your overall theme to keep the kids engaged, inspired, and interested. Feeding them is a good idea, too.
Don’t obsess over the official national day or year’s theme: The Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® Foundation does an amazing job. They deserved every bit of backing they received from the White House last year, and companies and parents should continue to support their worthy cause. However, holding your event on the actual national date and tying yourself strictly to the year’s theme limits your possibilities.
First, we choose a day that works best for the majority of our employees, avoiding April’s school vacation weeks in Mass. and New Hampshire. We then use the official theme and the organization’s recommendations as loose guidelines to create meaningful experiences for the kids that align with our business, mirrors our corporate culture, and is flexible for our people. (If the national day falls during a major launch or event, you’ll have a hard time rallying participants).
Kronos’ theme last year inspired kids to “Unleash Your Superpower,” and aligned with our WorkInspired corporate culture with activities that matched our GiveInspired and LiveInspired initiatives of giving back to the community and living a healthy lifestyle.
Narrow the age group: Herding cats has nothing on what it takes to entertain dozens of kids ranging from ages one to teenager. When Kronos started the program in 2006, we opened our doors to children ages 6-12. We quickly learned that the age gap meant very different interests, attitudes, and attention spans. Today we found a sweet spot of ages 8-11 where we can keep interests high with age-appropriate activities (we also moved to a half-day agenda plus lunch because a full 8-hour-day sure is long for everyone). If you feel strongly about inviting kids of all ages, consider two or three different ‘tracks’ for each age group.
Engage all employees: Make the day open to all employees – from interns to C-level leaders. Even if they do not have children of their own, it’s an inspirational event for all involved. Many hands make light work, and your people will surprise you if you open the doors wide for volunteers and their ideas.
Spread the love across the world: Encourage participation at offices beyond headquarters. Get the field involved. Have remote workers participate. Help these employees coordinate and participate in their own activities. Think beyond our U.S. borders. It’s just a video conference away. Don’t have multiple offices? Team up with local businesses or, better yet, some of your partners and suppliers to truly make it a global celebration
Aligning our theme with our culture
Here’s some more information of how we aligned the 2016 Take Your Child To Work Day theme, “Unleash Your Superpower,” with the Kronos WorkInspired corporate culture:
- WorkInspired – We had employees from all levels of the organization volunteer at the event. This included employees who had children participating last year, employees with no children, executives with adult children, and even older children who participated in prior years and just loved their experience. Each department formed a team and came up with its own proposed activity that aligned with our theme. I was the executive sponsor of the event and kicked the day off with a few group ice breakers, and then we had two members of the U.S. Army National Guard (the real superheroes) address the crowd of 90-plus children.
- GiveInspired – All activities planned for the kids had ties to a different charitable giving initiative. We packed care packages for soldiers overseas, made dog treats for an animal shelter, filled backpacks with school supplies for underprivileged kids, and had the children ‘shop’ in a mock supermarket for a local food bank. Our aim was to show children that their biggest super power was the ability to give back. With help from many tiny hands, Kronos donated:
- 90 care packages to ship overseas.
- 120 lbs. of food – or roughly 100 meals – for a local pantry.
- 400 dog cookies for the animal shelter.
- 40 quilting kits of over 300 squares of fabric for an organization for the blind.
- 12 pack backs stuffed with school supplies for needy children.
- LiveInspired – We provided healthy snacks and a healthy lunch to fuel the kids for the day, while building in activities that exercised their minds and bodies. A healthy body and a thoughtful mind are also critical super powers we all possess – but sometimes can go underutilized.