Google invites parents to work

The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

You’ve heard of Bring Your Kid to Work Day? Google’s putting a new twist on that: Today is Bring Your Parents to Work Day.

Stacy Sullivan is Google’s Chief Culture Officer and she says there’s been so much focus on the perks at Google -- the free food, the sleeping pods where Googlers can nap -- that people don’t understand the work being done at the search giant.

She said she often gets asked, “You have the best job in the world, all you do is eat really good food and have message and pet dogs, right?”

Michael Rubens is the father of 28-year-old Googler. Rubens flew out from New York to attend the event with his son.

“Well we’re trying to understand what he’s doing,” he said. Actually, it’s not that complicated, his son works in communications. But it’s a common question, and Parents' Day hopes to answer it.

The idea of bringing your family to work isn’t new, said Charles O’Reilly, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He says studies have shown that employees are more committed to their jobs when their work environment is family-friendly and relatives know something about the work they do.

“What they’re trying to do at Google, obviously do that, but recognizing that the majority of their employees are young enough but rather than having kids they have parents,” said O’Reilly.

He says Parents Day speaks to what’s unique about the Silicon Valley workforce: it’s really young. The average age at Google is around 29, according to PayScale, an employment research company. So rather than a spouse and kids, the nuclear family for many techies is still mom and dad.

Neal Hartman is a lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He says Parents' Day could also be a very subtle way of retaining employees. Something tech companies are obsessed with these days.

“You can imagine if your son or daughter came to you and said, well I’m thinking of leaving Google,” he said. And “the reaction, at least initially, is going to be, 'Are you crazy?'"

He says when you’re young, you don’t always have the experience to appreciate what you’ve got. And that’s what mom and dad are for.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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