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National Association of Counties * Washington, D.C.           Vol. 31, No. 6 * March 29, 1999

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Children at Work

As we approach the day in April each year designated as "Take Your Daughter to Work Day," (this year on April 22) the HR Doctor has a few thoughts and recommendations.

First, participate wholeheartedly in the day and its underlying meaning. Employees’ children symbolize continuity of the community. Their actions and concern for their positive future often dominate the thoughts and feelings of employees and have a direct effect on their ability to be productive at work.

A special day for employees to show their children firsthand what they do at work can build morale and provide a way for employees to demonstrate pride in what they do.

Second, the day is formally designated as "Take Your Daughters to Work Day." However, it should definitely also include sons.

The HR Doctor is also the HR "Daddy" of two beautiful daughters, Elyse and Rachel, who have learned a great deal about life, public service and management by participating in the work life of their father and mother.

The original purpose of "Take Your Daughters to Work Day," was to provide a tool to help enhance the self-esteem of girls. The American Association of University Women and others have documented the need for more such tools in our society and the HR Doctor agrees. However, more can be accomplished toward the goal of building self-esteem for girls by demonstrating the many opportunities for success available to girls and boys who work hard and serve with honor.

The HR Doctor’s experience is that can best be demonstrated by a special program which is attended by boys and girls together.

Third, create a special organization-wide program, with HR assigned as the coordinator.

One county has conducted such a program for years and last year had 500 children participate in the events. The children spent the first part of their day with their mothers or fathers at work in the various agencies of the county.

Many agencies organized meetings and demonstrations at the local work site, so the children could understand the work of their parents and how that work contributed to the agency’s success. Some included lunch or a picnic.

For others, the treat of lunch meant spending time at a restaurant during the work day. After lunch, all the children from all the agencies, along with their parents, were invited to assemble in an auditorium borrowed from the beautiful Performing Arts Center. The children were greeted by a folk singer and a storyteller. After that, for an hour in a talk show format, children were asked about their career goals and what they thought was required to be successful.

The children were introduced to successful employees representing many of the same career areas identified by the children. The county presented successful female role models to help deliver a message to all the children that gender is not the obstacle that it used to be to success at work. Children filled out a little workbook on self-esteem and participated in drawings to win prizes which had been donated by county executives and supportive local businesses. Care was also taken to ensure that some positive souvenir of the day was available to every child.

Following the formal program, parents and their children walked back from the Performing Arts Center to the main governmental offices together and used the two-block walk – or, in some cases, wheelchair roll – as the time to discuss what had been learned.

Obvious precautions were taken in planning the event, including making sure that the workplace was even more clean and safe than usual. Children were not allowed to ride in county vehicles or on heavy equipment. Children were prohibited from entering certain work areas where the work was inherently dangerous.

Everyone at work, including employees with no children, found the day to be exciting and different. Employees were talking about it before the event happened and afterwards. It definitely contributes to morale and people are already looking forward to next year’s event.

Direct costs to the organization are minor, but direct morale benefits are great. The HR Doctor recommends that "Take Your Children to Work Day" become an annual event in every county in America. Most schools allow excused absences for children on this day because they recognize the educational value of what can take place.

By the way, don’t have a child? Perhaps you have a grandchild or a niece or nephew. Perhaps a foster child or a child orphaned and living in a great institution such as an S.O.S. Children’s Village. You can arrange for an outing for such a child on "Take Your Children To Work Day."

You can contact the HR Doctor at the e-mail address below any time to discuss an HR Doctor "house call" or help with any HR problem. Best wishes.

Best Wishes,
The HR Doctor
e-mail at

(If you have questions for the "HR Doctor," e-mail him at Rosenberg is the Human Resources director for Broward County, Fla.)


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