BRANCHVILLE — It would have been easy to overlook the annual day of children in the workplace Thursday, as for many parents, children have been present at their job every day for the past several weeks.
While the novel coronavirus has prevented any traditional celebration of what is known nationally as "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," companies throughout the country have come up with alternate plans to give children a feel for the working world.
In a normal year, Selective would host roughly 200 total kids at its Branchville headquarters and regional offices and "give them a glimpse into what their parents and caregivers do," said Katelyn Leondi, a member of corporate communications with the insurance carrier. Children would often play games relating to the insurance world and take part in a community service project like a food drive or tree planting.
"Everyone at the company is sad that we can’t host this event," Leondi said, though she added, "We’re making the best of this event and encouraging our employees to celebrate this special day."
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic requiring all non-essential employees to stay home, Selective has still provided a variety of virtual activities for workers and their children to recognize the day and this year’s national theme, "Meet the Workplace Superstars."
Kids are invited to create posters thanking a so-called workplace superstar — such as a parent, teacher or first responder — and take a photo with their art to be shared online and among Selective employees. They can also get a taste of a typical work day by shadowing their parents in a meeting or being introduced to coworkers virtually.
For a more educational experience, Selective is offering several interactive resources for the children to browse. Younger kids can take part in online games dealing with a basic understanding of insurance policies, while older kids are able to learn more in-depth facets of the field that may entice them to pursue it as a career.
Children of all ages can listen to one of three virtual stories read by Selective assistant Vice President Matthew Rohsler: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle; "There’s Nothing to Do," by Dev Petty; and "How to Get a Job by Me, the Boss," by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap.
Selective is also encouraging feedback from the children with a survey asking what they have learned while in proximity with their parents’ work days. Among the topics addressed in the questionnaire are how they would describe a parent’s job to a friend, whether they would rather spend a day doing schoolwork or work from a parent’s job, and the most unusual ways they have gotten a parent’s attention while working.
Other companies throughout the nation have also come up with new ideas for a virtual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, children of Sentinel Technologies employees were tasked with developing an idea for an app, while NASDAQ workers and their kids were scheduled to remotely ring the company’s opening bell on the stock market.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also took advantage of remote working by introducing a virtual experience program for the children of its employees in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. The program offers a variety of activities and provides a look at several areas within the company.
While Selective employees were not able to celebrate taking their children to work in the conventional sense, Leondi pointed out one positive in the situation: with parents working from home, kids are likely getting an even more thorough lesson of their parents’ jobs than ever before.
"Day after day, our employees are bringing their children to work and navigating these uncharted waters," Leondi said in an email. "Children are learning more about jobs in insurance by being home with our employees than they ever would by being in the office."
Kyle Morel can also be contacted on Twitter: @KMorelNJH, on Facebook: Facebook.com/KMorelNJH, or by phone: 973-383-1292.