When my son asked if I would come in for ‘Bring In Your Parents Day’ at LinkedIn, I jumped at the chance. I thought it would give me a chance to learn more about what he does every day at work and it did. I got the feel for the supportive, relaxed culture that is emblematic of today’s leading companies. The friendly, enthusiastic young employees who greeted me upon arrival were all ready to assist the parents in providing directions to the event, offering food, and for taking pictures.
When my son went back to work while I remained with the other parents to hear speakers, I knew there was something special about coming to see him at work, and this helped me realize how true it is as we age, that roles reverse and we start learning as much from our kids as they do from us. The day was designed to educate, inspire and help parents feel more connected to their child’s work life.
Many companies use perks to gain loyalty from their employees: Campbell Soup has on-site after school programs and kindergarten classes, offers summer programs for children, and has a lactation room on its campus for nursing mothers. Johnson and Johnson offers a concierge service to help busy parents-as well as other employees-spend more time doing things they enjoy. SAS, the business analytics software and services company headquartered in Carey, NC, boasts an on-site “work-life center” featuring programs on everything from parenting to stress management. The employer also has an on-site healthcare center for its 13,679 employees. Google offers $500.00 for takeout meals, movie rental and diapers for new parents, discounts for nanny placement services and priotity acess at Bright Horizons child care centers across the county. Facebook offers four months of paid leave and $4,000 in baby cash for new parents.
Engaging an employee’s family is a novel twist on this theme.
LinkedIn want parents to know how much our adult kids have learned from us, how our guidance has helped them, and that they still need us. What parent doesn’t like to be told that they’ve done a good job and it’s helped their kid thrive and advance in the workplace? And what kid doesn’t enjoy seeing his/her parents enthused about his workplace?
Panel discussions which followed were geared towards getting to know people, not just their jobs. Each person on the panel held a different role in the firm and while they explained their job they also gave personal stories about themselves.
One panelist said he went through police training before coming to LinkedIn, another shared that she just got engaged, and shared a humorous story of her proposal, while a senior manager joked about having twins and a third child all under age six and how he juggles his home life and work. He said in part jest that his kids think his work is in a playground of sorts and he agreed that in some ways work does feel like play at LinkedIn. There’s a gym on the premises, with state of the art equipment and an array of fitness classes, free meals, an espresso bar, a speak easy offering daily happy hour and beer on tap, unlimited organic snacks, a music room, and great views of the city. From what I observed, LinkedIn creates an environment that cares for you and is conducive to having fun while on the job. The company’s experience is that engagement is good for employees and very profitable.
The closing speaker was LinkedIn’s highly personable, charismatic H.R. Chief Human Resources Officer, Pat Wadors who emphasized the importance of relationships at work and encourages group leaders to express gratitude and share stories that emphasizes the invaluable role relationships play into their careers.
Pat actually brought many of us to tears when she expressed genuine thanks to parents who she said “raised the type of people who make her job at LinkedIn easy and pleasureful.” She noted that the personality traits that LinkedIn hiring managers look for are humility, eagerness to learn, intelligence and a desire to help others, both customers and team members. Pat emphasized that technical skills could be learned but having a likable, energetic personality, and people who are driven to make a contribution at work comes from the homes the employees were raised in. While that may be true, either way I’m glad there are places to work that look at employees as complete human beings recognizing that our lives outside of work affect our lives inside the workplace.