If you’ve never thought of inviting your parents into your office, perhaps you should. The professional networking site LinkedIn says parents are a largely untapped resource for young professionals. On November 6, LinkedIn is hosting its second annual Bring In Your Parents Day, encouraging companies to open their doors to employees’ parents.
A recent LinkedIn study showed more than one in three parents say they have skills and knowledge that they have not yet shared with their child, but that they felt could benefit their child’s career. Twenty-two percent of parents chose not to share their knowledge because they felt they didn’t know enough about their child’s career, while the same percentage said they didn’t feel their child would listen. LinkedIn believes by bridging the communication gap between parents and children, children can tap into their parents’ knowledge base and be more successful in their careers.
Last year, over 30 companies and thousands of employees worldwide participated in the inaugural Bring In Your Parents Day. Jill Hirz Jones was one of those employees. A corporate communications manager at LinkedIn, Jones says she found it difficult to talk with her dad, a retired auto mechanic, about her challenges or accomplishments at work simply because she felt like they were speaking different languages when it came to talking about work.
“One of the first things he said to me when he came on campus at LinkedIn was, ‘Why do you need so many people to run a website?' Our industries are just so different,” she says.
LinkedIn career expert Nicole Williams says entrepreneurs and individuals working in new fields such as social media or technology can especially benefit from inviting parents into their working lives, as their parents are most often confused about what their children working in these new fields do for a living. Williams says once parents are provided with an opportunity to learn about their child’s career and see first-hand what they do each day, the floodgates of communication become open. “Once you understand, you can start having deeper conversations,” she says.
Jones says communication with her dad has changed since he spent the day with her at LinkedIn. “It’s made it a lot easier when I’m talking about work,” she says. “I’m not getting the confused look anymore. He has a better understanding of what the company does, what we’re working towards and how my role fits into that.”
Jones now feels more comfortable talking about things that are going on at work and now says she has another set of ears to bounce ideas off of.
Williams says this increased transparency translates into greater career success by instilling greater confidence and self-esteem in grown-up children. “When we feel understood, we’re more confident. We feel better about the work that we’re doing,” she says.
Williams herself says she thinks she’s more apt to take risks at work because of the greater sense of security she’s gained by having her father more involved in her career.
“Parents have a more objective interest in our success,” she says. While we may regularly receive advice from friends, coworkers, significant others or mentors, Williams says no one holds our best interest at heart as much as our parents, making their opinion all the more valuable.
"I think we care more about the opinion of our parents more than anyone else’s,” says Williams. Knowing parents have our best interest at heart provides us with a boost of self-esteem and confidence that translates into our daily working lives.