This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 19, 2014

Capitalizing on Helicopter Parents

The parents of the Millennials (Gen Y) and even the Homelanders (the label put on the Generation Z) are not satisfied to leave their children's futures to fate. Rather, they demonstrate a heightened concern and "hover" over their 20-something kids. Thus, these Baby Boomer moms and dads are called "Helicopter Parents".

Their involvement in their students' college lives has prompted some universities to open Offices of Parent Relations and even offer separate orientation programs for the parents. Wise schools will engage these parents for the long-term benefit of all.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for employers, their involvement does not end with graduation. In fact, according to Amy Hirsh Robinson, writing for The Human Capital Institute (HCI), 20 to 40 percent of these parents are calling Human Resources to obtain hiring information, send resumes, schedule job interviews, negotiate salaries, and debate questionable performance reviews on behalf of their grown children.

Not only that, but last November, LinkedIn sponsored an international "Bring Your Parents to Work" ( day in which 28 companies around the globe joined in the event. Though companies, like Google, have hosted similar occasions in the past, many dismissed this coordinated event as just another example of how pesky "Helicopter Parents" interfere in their Millennial children's lives.

Likewise, LinkedIn believes initiatives like these are opportunities for Millennials to show their parents what they do and bridge the generation gap. Many of their jobs didnŐt even exist ten years ago. Whatever the reason, we believe involving interested parents is a brilliant strategy for recruiting, retaining, and engaging top Millennial talent.

Wise employers may capitalize on this involvement a number of ways: the first thing to do is to recognize the critical role that supportive parents can play. Change your attitude to include a "partnership" with these concerned parents. One suggestion made by Hirsh Robinson is to follow the lead of the US military and "co-market employment opportunities to [both] Millennials and their parents".

Second, "offer to send employment packages to parents of interns and accepted job applicants". Consider providing the parents of your new young hires office tours of your facility. Offer to keep parents informed by permitting them to opt into the company newsletter. And finally, probably the most important of all, "train managers and HR staff on how to handle [this] parent interference productively".

By the way, lest you think that "Helicopter Parents" are exclusive to the United States, we have encountered them in other parts of the globe. They all say the same thing: "We just want what is best for our son/daughter". Leading edge employers are already capitalizing on this involvement to optimize the productivity of this talent.

Special thanks to consultant Amy Hirsh Robinson, MBA, for her HCI blog on this important topic.

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