By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President
The recent college bribery scandals as well as the very public overactive parenting of Liangelo, Lonzo and LaMelo Ball have highlighted the existence of “snowplow parenting”- “a person who constantly forces obstacles out of their kids’ paths. They have their eye on the future success of their child, and anyone or anything that stands in their way has to be removed.” (Retrieved on June 24, 2019 on the World Wide Web at https://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/snowplow-parenting-the-latest-controversial-technique/) Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich write in their article, How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of Adulthood, “In a new poll by The New York Times and Morning Consult of a nationally representative group of parents of children ages 18 to 28, three-quarters had made appointments for their adult children, like for doctor visits or haircuts, and the same share had reminded them of deadlines for school. Eleven percent said they would contact their child’s employer if their child had an issue.” (Retrieved on June 24, 2019 on the World Wide Web at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/16/style/snowplow-parenting-scandal.html.) Some experts suggest that this is contributing to a generation lacking confidence and experiencing feelings of inadequacy.
Many believe the net effect of helicopter, snowplow, bubble wrap parenting styles is that this will contribute to a critical challenge in the workplace. Emma Waverman writes in her article, Snowplow parenting: What to know about the controversial technique, “Research shows that helicopter parenting can have a negative effect on kids. They are less resilient, and less likely to take risks. They never develop proper coping skills or the maturity to make decisions on their own. Experts fear that children of snowplow parents will have similar issues—they won’t be able to handle failure or solve problems independently. Kids of snowplow parents may quit something instead of settling for second best.” (Retrieved on June 24, 2019 on the World Wide Web at https://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/snowplow-parenting-the-latest-controversial-technique/)
So, how can employers respond? Neil Howe and William Strauss write their article, Helicopter Parents in the Workplace, “This parenting style will … continue and strengthen over time as this generation fills in the ranks of young workers.“ (Retrieved on June 24, 2019 on the World Wide Web at http://www.wikinomics.com/blog/uploads/helicopter-parents-in-the-workplace.pdf) Howe and Straus list five strategies that employers can implement to “enlist parents as workplace allies:
- Co-market employment opportunities to Millennials and their parents: General Electric has begun running catchy ads, with lines like, “Let us take your son or daughter off your payroll and put them on ours,” in campus newspapers and on schools’ parent web pages. Companies can create a section in the employment portion of their websites specifically directed towards parents and their concerns. Firms such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, … and Ferguson Enterprises are sending letters to parents of students who have been offered a position, touting the company, explaining what the job is, and sometimes detailing the offer. HR representatives say these tactics are raising their acceptance rates.
- Provide ongoing information to parents: Office Depot has a special page on its website for job candidates’ parents, which directs them to a book on how to be supportive but not intrusive. Ernst & Young has begun distributing ‘parent packets’ to students during career sessions, as well as computer memory stick containing company information that students are encouraged to share with their parents
- Engage personally with parents: Merrill Lynch, for example, is launching a program to invite parents of new hires to visit its offices. Employers can hold a yearly event when young employees bring their parents to work, give parents of new hires a tour of the company, or have a dinner where employees can invite parents and other family members.
- Involve parents in social and community service activities to maintain a continual relationship with them: Companies such as State Farm already have large community service initiatives within their companies and invite families to participate. Traditionally, this has meant the children of employees, but why not the parents of employees as well?
- Help Millennials plan for the care of elderly parents down the road: Employers should start thinking now of innovative ways to support employees devoted to aging parents, including flex time for elder care and financial counseling on acute care insurance, reverse mortgages and long-term care.”
We have talked about how PHCC contractors should position themselves as the “Employer of Choice” in response to the ever-increasing workforce shortage. Howe and Straus note that “Employers who develop such a strategy … may be able to brand themselves as top choice workplaces for this generation of graduates. Those who fail to do so may find themselves struggling to recruit and retain the top candidates.” I have written in the past that we need a movement: a cultural shift in which parents, guidance counselors and others do not view vocational skilled-trades education/apprenticeships as a second option to going to college. Acknowledging the trend in parental styles over the future workforce gives employers yet another reason to talk to parents about the great opportunities PHCC employers can offer their kids.