- RBC Capital Markets is rolling out the RBCCM U.S. Kids Club, a new virtual summer camp-inspired program to keep its employees’ children occupied while at home this summer
- Staff from the bank are volunteering to teach online classes and lead courses meant to keep their kids entertained
- Among activities kids can partake in: pre-recorded story time, weekly sing-alongs, live workshops, and even classes on learning how to code – all taught by RBC staff themselves.
- Are you a young person working on Wall Street? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], encrypted messaging app Signal (561-247-5758), or direct message on Twitter @reedalexander.
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Everyone from managing directors all the way down to analysts at RBC Capital Markets are being tasked with pleasing their toughest customers yet during the pandemic: kids.
In early July, the capital-markets arm of Canadian bank RBC rolled out a new internal summer program, RBCCM U.S. Kids Club, a digital suite of activities designed to keep kids of the firm’s employees, who are still working from home, busy during an otherwise dull summer spent largely indoors.
Among the events that the firm is offering to kids: pre-recorded story time sessions, weekly sing-alongs, portrait-drawing classes, and live workshops where kids can learn how to code using Ruby, a coding language for beginners; develop skills for managing their finances; or hear about what a day might be like in the life of a trader or a banker.
“We’ve heard from a lot of our employees who are parents about how difficult it is to manage working from home, together with having kids underfoot with little or no outside activity,” Liz Lieberman, the head of US human resources at RBC Capital Markets, told Business Insider in an interview.
“The problem is particularly acute during the summer months when there’s no school and no camp,” she added, so the bank decided to launch this new internal program to help its beleaguered staff, and their equally cooped-up kids.
The pandemic, Lieberman said, has gone on “longer than anybody thought, and [has been] very, very difficult without having child care.” This new program is one way RBC is trying to help.Read more:Toddler meltdowns and spilled milk. Here’s how Wall Street’s high-flying – now grounded – bankers are working from home.
The Kids Club events are conducted using Webex, and a range of RBC employees at all levels of seniority have volunteered to pitch in their time. Lieberman estimated that about 40 RBC staffers have volunteered to help lead sessions of the program. Even Lieberman’s husband is involved: He helps lead a sing-along session for kids ages 2 to 6 every week.
A long, hot summer stuck indoors
As America continues to struggle with an intense summer spike in coronavirus infections, parents have adjusted to a new reality that they never could have predicted earlier this spring: keeping their kids home indefinitely.
Summer camp has proven to be a nonstarter for many families this year: A survey of 885 summer camps conducted in June by CampMinder found that as many as 62% of camps – nearly two in three – were planning to stay closed for the summer months.
Meanwhile, whether or not school districts will reopen this fall has become a political flashpoint, with many districts opting for largely virtual solutions or delayed start dates for now.
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Even if it’s an option available to them, mounting data suggest that many parents are wary of sending their kids back to the classroom.
As many as 71% of American parents viewed sending their kids back to school as a large or moderate health risk, according to one poll conducted by Axios and the survey group Ipsos earlier this month.
RBC is encouraging its staff to take time off to stave off work burnout at home
For its part, RBC Capital Markets says it has no timeline in place for when to bring its workers back to the office, so, for now, they’re staying home.
“We’re following CDC guidelines,” Lieberman said. “We’re putting our employees’ health first, and so we don’t have a date that we are officially opening,” she added, noting that the firm is closely monitoring data about the spread of the virus to inform its decisions on a possible timeline for returning to work.
Looking forward, she said, the new RBC U.S. Kids Club may be here to stay – at least through the eventual conclusion of the pandemic.
In the meantime, she noted, RBC has circulated internal resources among its staff to promote mental well-being during a time of remote work, from making counselors available to speak with employees, to sharing special podcasts that the firm produced on topics like resilience. One of them involved an interview with Chris Hadfield, a former Canadian astronaut who shared advice for staying positive during isolation.
Another effort RBC Capital Markets is making is to encourage its staff to take some time off to combat fatigue and burnout.
“You wake up in the morning, you start your computer,” she explained, “you don’t get out of the house – it can be draining, so we are definitely encouraging people to take some time away from the office, even if it’s at home.”
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Indeed, a recent survey conducted in May by the publication Human Resources Director found that 73% of workers reported feeling exhausted while working remotely during the pandemic. The leading cause: “No separation between work and life.”
RBC isn’t the only firm that’s taking steps to make employees’ lives easier during stressful times: Business Insider previously reported that Apollo Global Management is offering staff the chance to attend virtual meditation sessions and children’s book readings during the pandemic.
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