Jeff Weiner’s parents were sitting in the audience on Thursday as the LinkedIn CEO ushered in the company’s inaugural “Bring In Your Parents” day.
The new event, which drew 118 parents of 68 employees to the company’s New York office in the Empire State Building, was designed to bridge a generational gap in the workplace. The age of big data and social media has created an entirely new class of jobs, and, according to data from LinkedIn, one in three parents does not understand what their child does for a living.
LinkedIn follows tech titan Google, which launched its own “Take Your Parents To Work Day” last year. The online networking giant has encouraged other major companies, including financial services provider Deutsche Bank and real estate site Trulia, to host similar events.
In many ways, the day was designed to celebrate the parents of employees as much as to inform them. Blue and white LinkedIn balloons covered the walls, M83’s “Midnight City” played on speakers, and families clustered by the building’s windows, taking pictures of the Manhattan skyline. The day’s schedule included executive presentations, an on-site lunch, and an afternoon tagging along with their children as they worked.
During his opening remarks, Weiner reminisced about his parents attending the company’s IPO at the New York Stock Exchange and the words his dad used to say before putting him to bed.
“He would say, ‘You can do anything you can set your mind to,'” Weiner recalled. “He said it so often — I mean literally every night for the first 10 or 12 years of my life — I stopped hearing it, and it became one of those traditional parental bromides like ‘eat your vegetables.'”
Parents traveled from New York and New Jersey, as well as D.C., Massachusetts, and Connecticut to attend the take-your-parents-to-work day, and many seemed thrilled to be there. One father said he received numerous texts from colleagues, asking what the day was like. “I’m going to talk about that tomorrow at breakfast,” he joked.
Still, the event felt like an odd inversion of the traditional “bring your child to work” format, and more evidence that millennials are too attached to Mum and Dad. Today’s young adults launch their careers later, leave home later in life, and are more financially dependent on their parents. One woman interviewed, a 27-year-old ad operations manager at LinkedIn, said she would consider it “weird” not to talk to both her parents every day. Do millennials need them hovering at work, too?
“A helicopter parent would definitely jump on this,” said Hector Hernandez, a 31-year-old senior relationship manager at the company, whose dad was in attendance. “But I think with this group especially at LinkedIn, it’s more about understanding that there’s a divide between what we do and what they did.”
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