PARENTS: Make Your Gen Y Children Marketable During Tough Times

Job hopping, high expectations, restlessness, boredom.  These are just a few of the challenges employers are facing in attracting and retaining the Generation Y careerist, and it is making employers very skeptical about hiring twentysomethings to work in their company.  To add to this, many employers are complaining about the role and influence of the helicopter parent—the parent who is overly involved in their grown children’s lives and who hovers over and micro-manages their each and every move.

We are in the middle of what many economists are saying is a recession—a time when most people are saying they are grateful to have work, and jobs are becoming more and more scarce. Gen Y will be in there fighting, not just with other Gen Ys but with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who are out of work, for the job openings available.  If you are the parent of a Generation Y (ages 19-29 and born after 1977) man or woman, you want to do all that you can to make your Gen Y son or daughter attractive to an employer during a down economy, and this does not include being Gen Y’s constant guardian or enabling them to stay dependent on you for food, shelter, clothing and recreation.  It’s time to cut the purse strings and let your adult children grow up and become responsible for their lives.   This article will provide you with a few strategies to help your Gen Y move into the workforce in a way that builds long-term credibility and a respect for the workplace.

1. Resist the temptation to let your adult children move back in with you.  Gen Y adults are saying they’ve got it made in the shade.  If the job doesn’t work out, they’ll just move back in with Mom and Dad, which encourages job hopping and infuriates employers.  Hey…what’s wrong with having a place to sleep and a stocked fridge?  The down side of this dependency is that many Gen Yers are delaying their maturity until their late 20s, even early 30s (it’s hard to grow up when you are still dependent on your parents), which is a red flag for managers and employers.  One of the best ways to make Gen Y responsible is to stop giving them shelter, food and clothing and make them strike out on their own (we call this “tough love”).  The more you enable your adult children by providing them their needs and wants, the more they will keep job hopping and coming back for more.  Eventually, this job hopping will catch up with them and will become a liability on a resume.

2. Don’t get involved in your adult children’s job search or review process.  Each day, I am talking to employers who are complaining about parents coming with their Gen Y candidates to a job interview.  They are saying that the pitch is done to the parents—not the young careerist.  I am also hearing stories about parents who get way too involved in their adult child’s annual review, salary increase and team conflicts (which is a disaster for HR Directors).  While you can certainly serve as a sounding board during the interview or review process, stay away from the job site and by all means, don’t call the company to complain about your child’s annual review or if a bonus is withheld.   This will send a huge message to employers that they are not only hiring the Gen Y—they are hiring the parent (and believe it or not, this is a big black mark on your young adult’s employment record).

3. Talk to your young adult about workplace values and norms.  Generation Y is changing the way we work, and they are bringing what appears to be a lack of loyalty, respect and work ethic to the job.  While this may be innocent on Gen Y’s behalf, as a parent, talk with your young adults about what it means to show loyalty, respect and a strong work ethic to an employer.  Speak to them about building long-term relationships which can help them down the road, and by all means, talk to them about the long-term consequences of burning bridges.

4. Teach your young adult about communication, dress code and workplace etiquette.  Many parents assume that their young careerists know how to dress, what to say and how to communicate in today's workforce (which is still being run by Baby Boomers).  This assumption is greatly flawed.  Employers are complaining about Gen Yers showing up late for work, dressed in shorts and t-shirts, communicating only by text message or leaving early without permission.  It is critical that you speak to your young adults about how to navigate the workforce from dress code to how to communicate face to face with elders to protocol for arriving and leaving work.

5. Cut the cord from the cell phone.  Many employers are saying that one of the biggest challenges with Gen Y is their minute by minute access to Mom and Dad by cell phone.  Any time your Gen Y calls out for an S.O.S. and you respond, you are robbing them of the opportunity to problem solve and to mature into the adults they are becoming.  Do your best to limit cell phone conversations to three times per week and watch your Gen Y bloom.  You will be so proud of their accomplishments.

If this scenario resonates with the issues that are causing you the greatest concern financially, in your career, or with attracting and parenting for Generation Y,, contact Bea Fields today at (910) 692-6118 to book her for your next event or media interview.

This article was authored by Bea Fields. Fields is an executive coach, consultant and public speaker. She is the co-author of EDGE: A Leadership Story and Millennial Leaders: Sucess Stories From Today's Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders. .Fields is the President of Bea Fields Companies, Inc. and the Founder of Five Star Leader Coaching and Training.