The Fastest Way to Your Employees’ Hearts? Through Their Parents

Karen Niovitch Davis  Follow

It is widely known that employee engagement is a key contributor to employee retention. As the Chief Human Resources Officer at Prosek, my team and I must constantly remain focused on this if we want to retain the top talent we work so hard to bring in. A recent CareerBuilder study found that employers expect that 45 percent of their newly hired college grads will remain with the company for less than two years, and that by age 35, about 25 percent of young employees will have worked five jobs.   

At Prosek, we are always searching for ways to keep our employees engaged and motivated – whether it be through professional development, challenging assignments, work flexibility or compensation – but in today’s world, where employees change course and jobs at a rapid pace, employee engagement must be brought to new levels. 

Bring Your Parents to Work Day is Born 

It was this pursuit that led Prosek to host our first, “Bring Your Parents to Work Day”. Our thought was simple: what better way to engage employees than through the people that potentially influence them the most? Their parents.  

We know that work really is a “family affair”, but most of our parents don’t actually know what we do every day. According to a LinkedIn survey, one-third of parents don’t understand what their children do for a living, which can be somewhat concerning given the influence they actually have over their children’s career choices. We wanted to make our loved ones a part of our world, so we invited our employees’ parents to come to Prosek for the day.  

It’s important to mention that this event was firm wide and not just for young employees. When the sign-ups started rolling in, it became clear that our veteran employees and their parents were just as excited to participate as anyone. As we kicked things off with introductions, one proud mom said, “My son has been working for over 20 years, and frankly, I have no idea what he actually does. I can’t wait to learn about that today.”

“Take Your Parents to Work Day” was a 6-hour program that combined actual classroom learning (i.e., “Just What do PR Folks do All Day?” and “The House is on Fire- an Introduction to Crisis Communications”) with softer presentations centered around personal stories from our leadership team about their career progression, as well as how we motivate and reward our employees. Parents also learned about some of Prosek’s unique benefits, such as “Commission for Life,” where all employees get to benefit financially from introducing new clients to the firm. (Don't think for a minute that those parents are now not out there canvassing their contacts to help their kids earn some extra dough!)  

We also allowed plenty of time for mingling, both at lunch and at a post-program happy hour, so parents could meet their children’s peers and managers, as well as get a taste for our culture. And of course, there were photo opportunities and lots of Prosek swag so our parents all left feeling like part of the team. 

The Reaction

The reaction to the day was immediate and effusive. The emails and thank you notes came pouring in. Parents of employees of all ages and stages in their career felt like their children were being “taken care of” at work. 

“Thanks again for sharing a little bit of Prosek,” one parent wrote to us. “I will return to Denver feeling awesome about the work that John is doing alongside you and his other colleagues. The big takeaway for me is that you are building a wonderful organization, one that meaningfully impacts a world that you are helping to define.”

“You know how you never want some things to end?” another parent remarked. “A great movie, for example, a terrific book or a fabulous party? Add to that list the Prosek Bring Your Parents to Work Day.”

Our employees also felt truly touched by the experience, further binding them to our organization.

From one of our employees who has been here for nearly a decade: “Thank you so much - this was one of the most memorable days of my Prosek career and something that will be remembered fondly by everyone who was involved.”

And, from one of our senior leaders (you know, the one whose mom had no idea what he did for a living): “Thanks for putting together such a great day today. My parents (especially my mom) can’t stop talking about it. They had the time of their lives.”

Many of our clients have since heard about this special day and have already asked us to start planning and executing “Bring Your Parents to Work Day” on their behalf. We couldn’t be more excited to help them start their own programs. 

Overall, it was an amazing experience that truly resonated with both employees and parents, so much so that there may have been one or two parents that asked if they could fill out a job application. While flattering, that is where we would probably draw the line. As we all know, we love our parents but asking our employees to work side by side with them is pushing it. 

We look forward to hosting our 2nd annual “Bring Your Parents to Work Day” next year and continuing to do what we do best for our employees and our clients – taking it to the next level.  

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