Is it ever ok to bring your kids to work?
Modeling a work ethic and teaching youngsters the ins and outs of a day job, are noble goals. We even celebrate, “Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day” in our country – but it happens just once a year.
Beyond this annual event, bringing kids to your workplace may be viewed as a disruption, or in some instances a welcome addition, depending upon the scenario and how handle it.
For hospitality workers, evening shifts and off-peak hours may pose an issue to parents and guardians, particularly those who are challenged to find caretaking help, which can often be an expensive or complicated process depending on where you live and work. So, when, if ever, is it acceptable to involve your kids in your professional life?
Here are 4 factors to consider when making your decision:
1. Workplace safety. The topic poses a key issue right off the bat, which relates to safety. Some workplaces are never suitable for kids, such as those at which heavy machinery and/or dangerous equipment is operated. If you are a hotel or restaurant line cook and spend much of your time in the kitchen, consider the inherent danger zones of this environment, including hot ovens, sharp kitchen knives and food processors with built-in blades. And housekeeping staff interact with poisonous chemicals in their day-to-day roles. Such safety hazards may be a cause for both your and your employer’s concern.
2. Consider your colleagues. Another important factor is whether or not taking your child to work is advantageous to your co-workers. Will your kid is perched in front of a TV or electronic device, or doing something meaningful, like perhaps assisting others with duties? Depending upon the scenario, your youngsters may either be viewed as a distraction or a welcome asset.
3. Official company policy. It’s also important to investigate whether your employer has instituted workplace policies on the subject. Due to property liability, employee productivity, and maintaining professional decorum, many companies clearly state that bringing your child to work is inappropriate and should be avoided, barring an emergency situation.
4. Special circumstances. Other employers, perhaps smaller businesses, may be more flexible on the issue. For example, some may allow kids to come to work after their school day, on snow days, or when childcare arrangements don’t pan out. To maintain this arrangement, kids should obviously be on their best behavior and understand the expectations of the setting. If, as the caretaker, you fail to keep tabs on your son or daughter, or disregard the needs or sentiment of your colleagues, your employer may nix the kids-at-work benefit altogether.
5. Consider your commute. If you take one or more busses or other forms of public transportation to and from work, imagine the added potential cost and stress of taking your child with you. Especially during rush hour, shuffling your kid through crowds could be taxing on the both of you.
So, how do know what to do with your kids in these common situations?
- A common situation arises when a sitter cancels on you and there’s no back up to be found. Weigh the pros and cons of calling your boss or supervisor, before just showing up for work, accompanied by your child. The advance-notice and request demonstrates your respect, and may influence their response in a more empathetic way.
- If your child’s teachers or school happens to be on strike, this circumstance is beyond your control, and may receive a more lenient nod of understanding and empathy from superiors and co-workers. Still, consider other options before taking your child to work, as their needs must be met throughout your workday – whether it’s multiple bathroom or water breaks or a desire for a nap. Older children can’t be ignored either, as they may need assistance as they attempt to keep up with school work.
- If your child gets sick, and you find yourself without back-up care, consider taking a sick day yourself or a day off, as you will put your colleagues at a health risk by bringing your child to work, which may additionally come across as insensitive and improper.
- On “Bring your son or daughter to work day,” be sure to set realistic expectations, even though the national event gives you the green light to do so. You may not get a proper day’s work done with children to mind. To prepare for a positive outcome, schedule manageable tasks and responsibilities, pack books, gadgets and devices to keep your child occupied and content, describe the work atmosphere to your child in advance and reiterate the behavior you expect from them.
Also, if you’ve been a loyal or outstanding employee and are expected to receive a reward for your efforts at a company luncheon or event taking place during work hours, inviting your child along may be welcome and expected. But still double-check with others beforehand and plan accordingly. Ensure your child is dressed appropriately for the affair, knows the rules of conduct, and minds his or manners.