Embrace Your Helicopter Parents

Recent press on Helicopter parenting in the workplace has revived a collective sense of dismay over the Millennial generation. Helicopter parents are Baby Boomer moms and dads who exhibit an excessive degree of parental involvement, "hovering" over their 20-something kids. Universities responded first to this phenomenon by establishing Offices of Parent Relations and separate orientation programs for parents of incoming students. Now that Millennials have entered the workforce, a reported 20-40% of their parents are calling HR to obtain employment information, send resumes, schedule job interviews, negotiate salaries and debate questionable performance reviews on behalf of their grown children.

Employers and managers of Millennials are flabbergasted by what they view as the intrusive conduct of Helicopter parents. They attempt to deter the behavior, which only causes resentment from both Millennial employees and their parents. Employers should instead focus on strengthening relationships with parents to increase acceptance and retention rates of top young talent and improve their employer brand. Here are some specific tactics to that end:
  • Co-market employment opportunities to Millennials and their parents (the U.S. Military has a great example of this strategy at www.todaysmilitary.com)
  • Offer to send employment packages to parents of interns and accepted applicants
  • Invite parents of new hires to the office and provide parent tours of the company
  • Train managers and HR staff on how to handle parent interference productively
  • Publish parent newsletters or allow parents to opt into company newsletters to stay informed
If your company's success is dependent on a Millennial workforce you must build parental involvement into your recruitment, management and retention practices. Older generations may balk but I'm a realist. My clients compete daily to attract, retain and manage top Millennial talent. Their business models and strategies depend on it. Do yours?

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy