The LLoyd blog: hidden talent.

Kids in the Office


LLoyd Staffing was recently contacted by Wall Street Journal Columnist, Sue Shellenbarger, to learn how we and other companies accommodate children in our corporate setting. One of the staff members she interviewed was Barbara Cohen Farber, (pictured above) Executive Director of LLoyd Administrative Staffing with 14 years at LLoyd and nearly 30 years as a recruiter of talent. Her son, Michael Farber, has been a consistent visitor to LLoyd over the years.

What Kids Notice at the Office – It changes by age and is rarely what parent think is Sue Shellenbarger’s column as it appeared on December 17, 2013.
Click here for the full article.

And, as someone who has enjoyed our young “LLoydsters” through the years, here are my own thoughts…

I often have “business lunches” with the pint size visitors that come to our office. What makes these lunches somewhat atypical is that my dining companions can range from about 5 years old to 13. During weeks that most local schools have their winter break or other days off, we are likely to have anywhere from 1 to 6 young people here. Our company happens to permit children in the workplace during these school recess periods in order to accommodate childcare coverage; however, not every parent is fortunate to have a child-friendly employer. In fact, the debate continues as to whether kids at work are conducive to productivity and if they should even be allowed. For the most part, policy seems to be dictated by the corporate culture, nature of the work, age of the child and the size of the organization.

I confess that I like it when the kids are here. We get plenty of pint size visitors to the Marketing Department where I work. They like our color copier, our corporate premiums and the wide assortment of fancy paper. My team even puts them to work stuffing envelopes, assembling business kits, counting inventory. The owner of our company, Merrill Banks, sent out a memo recently urging staff to set up our Corporate Training Room with videos, snacks, books and art supplies in anticipation of the winter vacation week. Says Banks, “I want our employees to feel that it’s okay to bring their kids here when they need to, I think it makes for a more inviting workplace and encourages employee retention.”

I’ve asked the kids what they like about coming to work with their parents. Most often this is the response, “I get to see a lot of the people Mom or Dad talk about,” but what they usually don’t like is that their parents make them do schoolwork while they’re in the office, too. Ugh. Most come equipped to keep busy. Accessories include Portable Play Stations or tablets which can access movies, internet and games, Match Box cars, word search puzzles, juice boxes and yogurt. One youngster told me, “I think my Mom works pretty hard. She answers the phone, teaches people how to use the computer and helps people find jobs.”

But for every company that promotes a child-friendly environment, there are naysayers who are vehemently against it. A look at various website discussion groups turns up comments such as, “Children at work are too distracting and do not belong here. I don’t want to help supervise your child. I can sympathize, but we’re not set up for it and it’s not child safe. According to a survey done by Experience, Inc., nearly 40% of U.S. companies allow their staff to bring in kids in the event of an emergency. Additionally 60% feel companies need to be more supportive of working parents, while 42% say employees should not be allowed to bring children to work.

If you are faced with the childcare dilemma, here are some tips for making it work for you, your boss and your coworkers.
• Talk to your supervisor or HR department ahead of time to explore the issue.
• Talk to your child about his/her expected behavior. Outline rules.
• Bring in supplies to keep your child busy and occupied. Think of quiet distractions and use headphones for viewing videos or dvds.
• Don’t let your child wander or ask coworkers to “baby sit.” Keep him/her within eyesight.
• Don’t bring a sick child to work to infect others. Find alternative back up or stay home.
• Finally, be prepared that some coworkers may resent your child’s presence. Not everyone appreciates the company of the sandbox set. Afterall, W.C. Fields when once asked about working with children replied, “I like them. They are very good with mustard.”

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