Florian Krueger

Parents of Net Geners — A New Factor for Employers to Consider

In 2.0 on July 2, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Highly involved parents have followed the ‘Net Gens’ through every stage of life: challenging poor grades, helping their children choose a college — and choosing among prospective employers. A rising tide of parents are ‘hovering’ over their twenty-something child’s job search and early employment, contacting employers to complain, cajole and lobby on behalf of their son or daughter. And although the data quoted below is from a North American study — there is no reason to believe that the same phenomenon isn’t occurring in Europe.

Parents most often get involved by gathering information about prospective employers — 40% of employers have had parents gather employment information for their children. Nearly one-third of employers have seen parents submit a résumé on their child’s behalf. Over one quarter of employers have had parents advocate their children for a position, and 15% have had parents call to complain if the company does not hire their son or daughter.

Employers report that fathers are more likely than mothers to get involved in negotiations when a son or daughter is not hired or is being disciplined by an employer. Mothers, on the other hand, are more likely to collect information on the company and arrange for company visits and interviews.

Which employers are most affected?

Some kinds of employers encounter helicopter parents more than others. Levels of parental involvement differ based on an employer’s size, location, recruitment tactics and the type of positions they offer — as well as on the socio-demographics of the family. According to the 2007 Michigan State University survey, four situations experience the most interaction with parents:

  1. Large employers with regional and national brand recognition
    Parents feel that their children could get lost at a large, brand name company, whereas a small, intimate workplace will provide the personal mentoring they have come to expect for their children. Smaller companies are also more likely to be local, so the parents of employees may know them personally and be less likely to seek out information and get involved.
  2. Employers with strong internship programmes
    Parents know that many companies use their internship programmes to develop long-term relationships with prospective employees, and want to fully investigate any company that may affect their child’s long-term future. Interns also tend to be younger than entry-level employees and therefore draw more intense protection from parents.
  3. More affluent families — especially from urban areas
    Where parents have invested large sums of money in their child’s education they may feel an entitlement to negotiate so their child’s career takes off on the ‘right foot’. And urban areas tend to be ahead of rural areas in many ‘Net Gen’ trends, from rising school achievement to falling substance abuse and risk-taking.
  4. Positions in marketing and sales
    Employers see higher parental involvement in these functions than those filling engineering, research and administration positions. It is possible that parents whose children work in marketing, human resources and sales positions intervene more because these careers have higher outcome uncertainty. These are also alpha-personality careers, which may have been pushed on their children by alpha-personality parents — the ones who are most likely to intervene with employers.

Are you a helicopter parent or have you experienced it in your organisation?

You can comment on this article or ask a question on the nGenera Community.

This is extracted from our report Helicopter Parents in the Workplace, which forms part of our Talent 2.0 programme. If you are interested in reading more on this topic please contact Suzanne Churchett to request a copy of the full paper.


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