Helicopter Parents: Your Secret Weapon to Millennial Recruitment, Retention and Engagement
Are You Ready for “Bring Your Parents to Work” Day?
In November of last year LinkedIn sponsored an international Bring Your Parents to Work day in which 28 companies around the globe participated. While individual companies, such as Google, have hosted similar days in the past, many wrote off the coordinated event as another example of those pesky “Helicopter Parents” intervening in their Millennial children’s lives. LinkedIn contends that such initiatives are opportunities for Millennials, many of whom occupy jobs that didn’t even exist ten year ago, to show their parents what they do and bridge the digital generation gap. Regardless of the motive, embracing highly involved parents in the workplace is a smart strategy for recruiting, retaining and engaging top Millennial talent.
What Are Helicopter Parents and Why Should You Care?
Helicopter Parents are Baby Boomer moms and dads described as exhibiting an excessive degree of parental involvement and “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.
Strategies for Embracing Helicopter Parents to Improve Recruitment, Retention & Engagement
Employers and managers of Millennials are often flabbergasted by what they view as the intrusive conduct of Helicopter Parents in the workplace. They respond by attempting to deter the behavior, which only creates resentment from both Millennial employees and their parents. Employers should instead focus on strengthening relationships with parents to increase recruitment 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 job 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 companies compete daily, spending precious time and money, to attract, retain and manage top digital and Millennial talent. Their business models and strategies depend on it. Do yours?
Amy Hirsh Robinson, MBA, is Principal of the Interchange Group and a leading expert on the impact of generational differences in the for-profit and not-for-profit workplace. She consults to C-level leaders on enterprise-wide strategies to reduce attrition costs, increase profitability and create agile workforces able to adapt to change. Amy is a popular speaker and author on the topic of attracting, retaining and managing top talent, and has been cited and quoted in publications such as Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post.