By now, most people have heard the term, “Helicopter Parents”. You know, the Boomer parents of the Millennial (aka: Gen Y) Generation who have hovered over their kids since birth, guiding them through childhood, into college…and now following their “adult” children into the professional workforce.
What??? You weren’t aware of how prevalent this hyper-parenting phenomenon truly was? Oh, trust me, it’s a BIG deal (and issue) for many Bosses and companies. Some companies are even starting to add “do’s and don’ts” policies in Employee Handbooks for the PARENTS! I’ll explain why in a bit.
And, just to be clear, I’m referring to employees who are in their 20’s, in corporate environments; not parents calling work on behalf of their teenager who has a summer job at the local mall.
Let me put this into perspective from my own first-hand experience: In my SEVEN YEARS of being a keynote speaker and conducting workshops for companies about how to better recruit, manage and retain Millennial talent, I’ve yet to ask this question and NOT get a hand raised: “Who here has heard from the parent of one of your Millennial employees?”
EVEN if it’s a small private session for a corporate Management Team (versus an audience of 500+), I always get at least 1-2 hands raised. Always.
This recently happened again at a presentation I conducted for Executives at an annual automotive industry conference last week. Six attendees out of 75+ raised their hands when I asked that question, and (as usual) I asked one of them to share why the parent called. I’ll share that story in a moment, so please keep reading.
The reason I always ask at least one person to share “why” the parent called is not only because I find it fascinating, but the answers always result in an outburst of laughter, mixed with shock & disbelief, from my audiences. Plus, I also ask why so that other attendees who (may) think “there’s no way parents call”, quickly realize I’m not making this stuff up.
Based on this new phenomenon in today’s modern workforce, I decided it was time to share some of these stories to illustrate how common this is. I’ve got hundreds of these real-world stories, but here are five. Each of them was shared at different speaking engagements I’ve conducted; all from different industries, located in different regions, and of different sizes, throughout the U.S. and Canada.
IMPORTANT: In the countless stories I’ve heard, sometimes the Millennial employees were aware their parents were calling, and sometimes not. So I do NOT want to imply the Millennials always ask their parents to do these things. Oftentimes, the Helicopter Parents do it on their own, and I’ve spoken to many Millennials who said they were mortified when they found out.
TRUE TALE #1: The Sr. Vice President mentioned previously at the recent automotive conference shared that she received a call from the father of one of her (26 years-old) Millennial employees. Dad called her to say he didn’t think his daughter’s private parking spot was located in a safe place for women so he requested that she be given a different one.
TRUE TALE #2: The CEO of a medium-sized company shared that he wanted to hold-off on promoting one of his Millennial employees because the employee (24 years-old) simply needed about six more months of training and on-the-ground experience. The next day the employee arrived at work with her Mom. They requested to see the CEO immediately and he obliged. Once in his office, Mom proceeded to pull out a long list that she and her husband had created the night before which outlined all the reasons why THEY thought their daughter WAS qualified to receive the promotion now…not in six months.
TRUE TALE #3: This does not pertain to someone’s “current” Millennial employee, but it’s another good example. The Sr. Director of HR at a Fortune 500 company attended my presentation for their Executive Team. Three days later she sent me an email to share that that morning she received a phone call from the Mom of a college senior. The Mom called her to inquire about internships the company had that her daughter could apply for. Mom explained she was calling companies on behalf of her daughter because her daughter was too busy at school studying for finals and being on the school’s swim team.
TRUE TALE #4: The Marketing Manager at a Fortune 1000 company shared at one of my presentations that a Dad called him, very upset. Dad said that his son (25 years-old) didn’t feel like he got enough time to share his ideas at the weekly department meetings. Dad asked the Manager to either make the weekly meeting longer OR call on his son more often.
TRUE TALE #5: The Director of Learning and Development at a large company had this to share with me and the audience: He had just hired a new Millennial employee (26 years-old) and during the on-boarding process the Millennial was given the standard Employee Benefits Package to review. Apparently, the Millennial had her parents review it because the next day Mom called her daughter’s new Boss to say that she (Mom), and Dad, had some questions about the benefits information.
I’m sharing these examples because, aside from being somewhat humorous, this topic is important for employers to be aware of. Why? Because if someone at work receives a call from a Helicopter Parent inquiring about things like promotions and raises their adult child didn’t get, and the Manager (caught off guard) engages in a conversation with the parent, it could cause serious legal issues for that Manager AND the employer.
The bottom line is that Bosses cannot discuss sensitive matters about employees (who are over 18 years- old) with the employee’s parents. Therefore, as an expert on Millennials and generational dynamics, I strongly suggest that this info quickly be shared with your Management and Leadership Teams.
By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. That means the number of Helicopter Parents calling employers is only going to increase!
I have some fun news to share! My latest book, “Your Employee Brand is in Your Hands”, has been chosen as a finalist in the 17th annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. It is 1-of-6 finalists in the Non-Fiction “Career” books category!
Since it was published, it has become a very popular book with companies using it for their employee training and development programs, leadership development, and for retaining employees. So I’m really happy to know judges for a big book competition think it’s worthwhile, too!
This is a complete list of categories and finalists: https://indiefab.forewordreviews.com/finalists/2014/
Here’s the gist of the competition and how they select final winners:
Each year, Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd.
In the next three months, a panel of more than 100 volunteer librarians and booksellers will determine the winners in 63 categories based on their experience with readers and patrons.
“After 17 years, our awards program has become synonymous with quality because our editors set such a high bar on the finalist round, which makes it especially tough for the judges who select the winners,” said Victoria Sutherland, publisher of Foreword Reviews. “In every genre, our judges will find an interesting, high-quality selection of books culled from this year’s entries.”
Foreword Reviews will celebrate the winners during a program at the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco on Friday, June 26 at 6 p.m. at the Pop Top Stage in the exhibit hall. Everyone is welcome. The Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction, Nonfiction, and Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Publisher of the Year Award will also be announced during the presentation.
About Foreword: Foreword Magazine, Inc is media company featuring a FOLIO: award winning quarterly print magazine Foreword Reviews and a website devoted to independently published books. In the magazine, they feature reviews of the best 160 new titles from independent publishers, university presses, and noteworthy self-published authors. Their website features daily updates: reviews along with in-depth coverage and analysis of independent publishing from a team of more than 100 reviewers, journalists, and bloggers. The print magazine is available at most Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million newsstands or by subscription.
I recently had an amazing experience: The Government of Brunei Darussalam hosted a Leadership Conference for Millennials (aka: Gen Y), attended by employees from both private and public sector organizations. And they hired me to be a featured speaker at the event, so I flew to their capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and it was awesome!
While there, I conducted my Personal Branding Workshop for them. But what was very interesting is that when I asked how many of them had ever heard the term Personal Branding, only 2-3 attendees out of 300+ raised their hand. However they rapidly embraced the concept, and took the training very seriously.
Brunei is a small country that shares a border with Indonesia. And, even with a population of only 440,000, organizations there are running into the same challenges we have here in the U.S.; they are having to move younger employees into leadership roles sooner and that is creating new challenges for the Millennials AND their employers.
Just like Millennials here, they need training on leadership and management. And employers are interested in knowing more about managing, recruiting and retaining Gen Y.
Yes, people, the “Millennial” phenomenon is a GLOBAL workforce issue. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t have been hired to fly across the globe. Right?
While there, I experienced a bit of celebrity, which was fun! They had ordered 300 copies of my third book, “Millennials into Leadership”, and most all of the attendees wanted me to sign their copies, plus they all wanted to take pics with me.
Then, the day after I spoke, I opened their main daily newspaper, and there I was featured in a big article. I’m moving there. LOL
I also spent some time sightseeing. One main highlight that day was the private boat tour I took. We went into the jungle where I saw crocodiles and monkeys!
Anyway, the whole things was a unique experience that I wanted to share. The people of Brunei were extremely gracious and hospitable. I’m hoping to work with them again in 2015!
I’ve written tons of blogs and articles on this topic, but it continues to be a challenge for many companies which is why they bring me in to conduct in-depth seminars about it. Based on that, I felt it wouldn’t hurt to write another post on “how to retain Millennials” (aka Gen Y) since it’s still a very hot topic in the workforce.
So, why DO companies – large and small – spend so much time worrying about how to retain Millennial employees? It’s basically a matter of math.
According to the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), our country is at the beginning of a labor shortage of approximately 35 million skilled and educated workers, which is estimated to continue over the next two decades. Plus, Baby Boomers are currently reaching retirement age at an estimated rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
Thus, startling stats like those have Leadership Teams scrambling to figure out how to effectively retain their “top” younger talent because the current, and future, success of their companies depends on it.
To give your company an edge, consider the following strategies that other smart organizations are implementing…
5 Solid Strategies to Retain Your Millennial Employees:
1. Communicate A lot: In a survey conducted by Yahoo! HotJobs and Robert Half International, over 60 percent of Millennials responded that they want to communicate with their managers at least once a day. Unfortunately, many members of “older” generations feel that communicating that often with employees is cumbersome but the Millennials require it or they will leave.
2. Provide Training & Development: According to a recent national survey, Millennials rated training and development as an employee benefit 3 times higher than they rated cash bonuses. And they not only want skill-based training; they want training on soft skills, too.
3. Rapid Advancement Alternatives: You don’t always have to give Millennials a raise or promotion to keep them happy; being creative with increased responsibility can work great! Millennials have fast minds and get bored quickly, but it’s your job as their employer to help eliminate the “boredom” factor. Find creative ways to give them more responsibility, such as letting them do one or more of the following:
4. Mentor Programs: This is key! Millennials have grown up with a lot of guidance from their parents, society and teachers. They truly value and seek handholding at work. So, please heed this advice! I’ve spoken with many Millennials who have quit jobs quickly because they were promised mentorship, but never received it.
5. Foster a Leadership Mindset: The sooner you can educate your Millennial team members on the attributes of being a respected leader, the sooner they’ll start acting like one. And by emphasizing that everything they say and do either strengthens or weakens their Personal Brand(s) can quickly provide them with a new perspective that can improve the behavior that may be frustrating you.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Millennials’ wants and needs aren’t much different from those of older generations; they just have a lower tolerance threshold than generations before them. A Boomer may put up with a job for five years even if he or she is bored or doesn’t feel valued, but a Millennial may only tolerate it for five months.
That said, what can your company being doing differently to ensure that you don’t lose your top Millennial talent to the competition? Savvy organizations are being pro-active with developing retention strategies versus being reactive. Is yours?
With $1.5 billion in annual spending power, and being a generation 85 million strong, it’s easy to see why companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations care about attracting Millennials (aka: Gen Y) as customers. The eldest Millennials are now around 30 years-old…so they’re not just “clueless kids” anymore.
So for businesses to more successfully engage, attract, and develop new customer relationships, it’s important to be aware of this interesting fact shared by J. Walker Smith, Ph.D. and Ann Clurman, Co-Authors of the book, Rocking the Ages: “Generationally determined lifestyles & social values exercise as much influence on buying and purchasing as more commonly understood demographic factors like income, education, and gender do – maybe even more.”
How Millennials (aka: Gen Y), Generation X, and Baby Boomers each prefer to be engaged with is different. And it’s critical that Sellers educate themselves on these preferences as it can greatly improve the results of their sales and marketing efforts.
However, for this post, my focus is on Millennials. Not only are they the newest generation of young, adult consumers, they are the most unique. Thus, they’re worth learning about. Why? For starters, they are the largest generation the U.S. history. Plus, by 2025, 75% of the U.S. workforce is going to be comprised of Millennials.
As a result, not only will Sellers and Employers be working with them more as colleagues, but they’re going to be heavily competing for them as customers.
There are many ways to attract, engage and build brand-loyalty with this unique generation. Here’s an example of three to be aware of:
Smart companies are investing a lot of time, effort, and money into learning everything they can about the Millennial mindset; both as employees AND consumers. Furthermore, Sales Teams all over the globe are learning how to better engage with them as our next generation of key decision-makers in the workforce.