Celebrating Take Our Kids to Work Day in the era of COVID

Originating as Take Our Daughters to Work Day in 1993–and expanding 10 years later to include sons–the practice of inviting employees’ kids into the workplace has become an annual tradition. On the fourth Thursday of each April, more than 37 million Americans at over 3.5 million workplaces participate in the tradition, which is intended to give children a glimpse into the working world. With many employees working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic and related stay-at-home orders, however, employers were challenged to find new and creative ways to participate in this year’s event.

The argument could be made that employees working remotely are already participating in a revolving Take Our Kids to Work Day and that sons and daughters are gaining insights into the working world on a daily basis. However, many organizations chose to embark on special initiatives focused on the importance of family and work/life balance, particularly in a time of global crisis.

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“Choosing to celebrate Take Your Child to Work Day was a natural extension of the efforts already in place to maintain a family-focused culture in spite of all the current challenges we’re going through as employees, parents and human beings,” says Dave Almeda, chief people officer for the newly merged Kronos/Ultimate Software. “We didn’t want the day to go by without celebrating and acknowledging something that’s been a sense of pride for both Kronos and Ultimate, and it’s another way we’re trying to help employees and parents navigate this new way of working and with a certain level of normalcy.”

According to Almeda, the organization launched a “Parents’ Corner” resource page on its Working Virtually microsite in March, offering a variety of resources to balance working remotely with caring for their children. A special Take Your Child to Work Day page, featuring a list of activities broken down by age group, was added in April. The company also coordinated an Earth Day scavenger hunt and a special webinar with Zoo Miami’s Goodwill Ambassador Ron Magill. Finally, a group of “UltiPeeps and Kronites” got together to record a Take Your Child to Work Day message that aired on a Boston area news station.

In Cambridge, Mass., global research and advisory firm Forrester took a slightly different approach. Aware that many working parents are feeling “exasperated, overwhelmed, exhausted and guilty” as they struggle to juggle work and family responsibilities in the midst of a pandemic, the company declared April 24 Parents Appreciation Day, according to Chief People Officer Sherri Kottmann. Parents were able to take the day off without dipping into their vacation or personal time. Those with pre-existing client engagements or other commitments were allowed to work with their manager to take another day off in the near future.

“It was a simple acknowledgement of their immense challenge,” says Kottmann, “but it also modeled that it was not only OK to focus on their long-term wellness, but it was essential to the business that they do so.”

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Julie Cook Ramirez
Julie Cook Ramirez is a Rockford, Ill.-based journalist and copywriter covering all aspects of human resources. She can be reached at [email protected].