The first-wave of Millennials—those born in the 1980s and early 1990s—are becoming parents, and like all generations they are putting their own mark on raising children. In this age of generational label overkill, they even have been given their own name: Parennials.
As these Parennials transition to adulthood, they bring with them a brand new style of parenting that reflects their priorities in work/life balance that will affect employers for the next couple of decades.
And there are lots of them—already, more than 16 million Millennial women have children, and the number is growing by 1 million a year, according to Pew. Because they are having children later in life than previous generations—when their career is more established, they may have a better idea of what they want in life, and what they want in work.
If you are an employer of these Parennials, you will want to readjust your programs and resources to reflect their needs as new parents. Here are a few ways employers can do that:
Work to keep childcare stress at bay. An increasing number of workplaces are offering on-site childcare or setting policies that are childcare-friendly. If on-site daycare isn’t possible, offering pre-tax childcare savings or flex spending accounts (FSAs) and financial counseling as parents adjust to the reality of new expenses can help increase corporate loyalty among Parennials.
Set parent-friendly policies and schedules. Harvard Business Review reported, “Some organizations have implemented a policy that no meetings will start prior to 9:30 a.m. or end later than 4:30 p.m. This simple move cuts down on the anxiety surrounding timely daycare pick-up and drop-off, and the expense related to daycare overtime charges. When parents aren’t worried about running late, they can keep their mental energies focused on the business.”
In addition, offering perks such as closing the office early on Halloween, offering job shares (two people work 20 hours per week each) or providing paid time off for parent-teacher conferences and school functions can go a long way.
Invest more in telecommuting and remote communications. Flexibility around how, when and where work is done can all help keep Parennials engaged and productive. Some companies have found that investing in teleconferencing technology can help allow for schedule and work location flexibility while keeping co-workers connected to and engaged in the workplace.
Some Millennial and Generation X entrepreneurs are responding to these specific flexibility needs by creating professional co-working spaces attached to daycare centers or playrooms, such as Play, Work or Dash in Northern Virginia.
Set up workplace parent support groups. A new take on mentoring programs at work are parenting support groups. Millennials are the first generation who can get so much parenting advice online, but using the shared interest in parenting and how to juggle work and life can build bonds between coworkers and present new opportunities for mentorship. The Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management offers a guide to creating these groups here.
Millennials are giving birth to 5 of every 6 babies today, so as an employer, consider building the programs and allocating resources now to help keep (and attract) the best Millennial employees.