How 'Bring your parents day' improves work-life balance

What started as an inside joke has become a way for some companies to put their proverbial money where their mouth is when it comes to family-friendly policies.

bring in your parents day
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Though it started as an inside joke four years ago, LinkedIn's annual Bring In Your Parents (BIYP) day has evolved and expanded to highlight how many companies are emphasizing family-friendly culture and work-life balance.

"A few years ago, some of us were having lunch and joking about how none of our parents really understood what it was we did -- as a professional social network, as a tech company, as a digital company. Everyone had a funny story about trying to explain their job to their parents, and we thought, 'We can't be the only ones who feel like this; what if we literally brought our parents to work with us one day?'" says Catherine Fisher, senior director, member marketing and communications, LinkedIn.

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Doing the research

LinkedIn's data team got on board and commissioned some research and it turned out that around one-third of LinkedIn's employees' parents had no idea what they did for a living, but were open to finding out. That first year, Fisher says, what began almost as a fun, playful event quickly turned into something a lot more meaningful, right before everyone's eyes.

"To be honest, it was almost a gag. But what we saw was a bond developing between the parents, and a strengthening of ties between the teams at the company. There was this commonality we noticed -- so much pride and curiosity and respect for what everyone did, and then it became emotional. The parents were grateful for having the chance to share this with their kids and vice versa; it was awe-inspiring," Fisher says.

The event was so popular that employees and their families practically begged for an annual event, and "Bring in Your Parents" day was born, Fisher says. Now, in its fourth year, the event, which was held on November 4, has caught on in Silicon Valley and with innovative and progressive companies looking to double down on family-friendly policies and a culture that encourages healthy work-life balance.

The event also highlights just how much the workforce and the employment landscape has changed in a generation, with organizations driven just as much by mission, values and purpose as by the bottom line, says Ben Mand, senior vice president of brand marketing and innovation at Plum Organics, whose company participated in BIYP for the first time this year.

"Today's digital marketplace is very different from when our parents went to work. It's not just about coming in, punching a clock, making money for the shareholders, and going home -- everyone is understanding that being mission-driven, purposeful and having solid values are key in today's workforce, and that's what we wanted to highlight with this day," Mand says.

BIYP day at Plum Organics will include time spent across all functions of the company, including product, design, customer insights, supply chain, marketing and data analysis -- along with a taste test and some fun bonding activities, Mand says.

Though many of Plum Organics' employees are transplants to the Bay area, Mand says he expects between 10 to 15 employees -- each with one or both of their parents -- to participate, and that it speaks volumes that many are willing to make the trip from out of town.

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"As soon as we learned about this, we wanted to participate. We're a baby food company, and we're already very family oriented, but this was about being able to emphasize just how much we value our employees and every part of their families," Mand says.

Expanded interest

Plum Organics wasn't the only other company to participate in BIYP. Interest in the event keeps growing every year, Fisher says, as more organizations understand the impact and the positive effects on culture, engagement and morale. This year, micro-brewery Dogfish Head, CRM, sales and marketing software firm HubSpot and travel site GogoBot were also participants.

"We'd reached out proactively to some other companies we partner with, but many of our partners had already been asking us about this; they're fascinated by the concept and they're eager to participate. We didn't have to explain how this could really improve their engagement and help their culture initiatives," Fisher says.

Personal connection

For Shira Selkovits, senior relationship manager at LinkedIn, BIYP is a manifestation of the value of work-life balance and just another reason to love her job and her company.

"I've been here for four years, and my parents have come to BIYP for the last three -- they love it. Every job I've had, my Mom has asked me to take a picture of my desk and send it to her, so she feels included in my day, and so this is a tangible way I can do that. But it's also about knowing that my values and my priorities are around my family, and that my company supports that. For my family, they love learning about how we generate revenue, what it means to work at a tech company in 2016, they love interacting with the other parents and finding connections and commonalities," Selkovits says.

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Fisher hopes more companies will see the success of events like BIYP and participate in years to come, because of the positive experiences and the sense of pride and accomplishment participants feel after the fact.

"Developing and fostering talent and hosting events like this shows our people that we are invested in their careers, their success, and in making their families priority and helping them be part of our family, which sounds cheesy, but it's really how we approach things here. There's nothing better than looking in the eyes of a parent on this day and saying, 'Your kid is just amazing. We love having them on the team!' It's a wonderful experience both for the parents and the employees," Fisher says.

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