For many employees, yesterday’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day was one of those moments on the journey through work and life that resurfaces the key questions: Why am I doing this? What am I really working for? Am I happy?
I will never forget spending a day at work with my dad. He spent 42 years as a technician for the telephone company. Every day leaving home in his work truck, only to return late in the evening, tired and dirty following a day of manual labor. Riding along with him, in a truck without air conditioning despite the heat of south Texas, put it all in perspective. It was on that day when I learned that what pushed him, what gave him purpose, was being able to provide me an education so I could follow a different career path. One that hopefully included air conditioning.
Without the first-hand exposure to his job, and the daily challenges he faced, I would not have appreciated the sacrifices he made for his children, and found the personal motivation to achieve what I have. My educational goals, career aspirations, and personal relationship, would likely be very different if I hadn’t spent the day at work with my dad.
Seeing another side of work
As Generation Z enters the workforce, and millennials become workplace leaders (and parents themselves), they too are asking the same questions their parents did, and wondering what they are working for. The raw exposure that Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day provides is essential. It can help reduce the overwhelming pressure on today’s young people to succeed and break down unrealistic expectations about the definition of work itself. It may also help children better appreciate why mom or dad works so hard, and may be a little grumpy when they get home at the end of the day. It may be what motivates that child to change course and set life goals.
My teenage nephew sees the glamour in my job. But when he learns that Aunt Susan needs to give four back-to-back client presentations in one day, he sees the other side. My travel schedule looks different to an excited teenager than to a million-miler road warrior. Being exposed to the other aspects of jobs may help a child reflect and decide at an age early enough to do something about it, what they want from life.
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“Being exposed to the other aspects of jobs may help a child reflect [on] what they want from life.”
Looking at the business side of things, it’s challenging for HR teams to find a healthy balance between tangible and intangible perks, benefits and rewards. At the same time, more and more organizations are realizing that a holistic approach to rewarding their employees is the best one. Intangible, long-term rewards, like spending more quality time with our family and friends, are extremely meaningful, but they are also very difficult to measure. Navigating this challenge is tricky for corporate leaders and HR managers, and it is increasingly coming down to focusing on the things you can control versus what you cannot.
The broader view
Today’s workplace is still rife with misconceptions; therefore, it’s important to view Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day more broadly, as part of a greater push for diversity, inclusion and long-term talent retention. By taking a blank canvas to the day, you can make a significant difference in the lives of your employees and their loved ones. And the organization you work for.
When orchestrated thoughtfully and marketed authentically, Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day can become a key differentiator when showcasing what makes your company’s culture truly different from the rest. Consider that next year when you plan activities to make the day special.