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Ask an HR Expert: How Can HR Deal with Parents Who Want To Be Involved in Their Adult Children's Jobs?

What to do when mom and dad try to negotiate higher salaries, promotions and more vacation time for their kids.

As the youngest Americans take on their first positions, helicopter parenting is entering the workplace in full force. Mom and Dad are not just calling to ask the status of applications or sit in on interviews anymore. In many cases, they have now become lobbyists, contacting HR to negotiate higher salaries, promotions and more vacation time for their kids. Increasingly, workers are even involving their parents in disciplinary meetings.

You may need to politely notify these deeply involved parents that they will need to communicate with their child directly about work issues rather than contacting the employer. It is perfectly legitimate for an organization to have a policy stating that staff will speak only to employees regarding job-related matters, including disciplinary actions. An exception may be for those under the age of 18. Although there is no legal requirement to allow parental involvement for minors, it may be a good idea to ask these young workers their preference. In some instances, a parent’s presence during disciplinary meetings could help avoid misunderstandings regarding performance issues or allegations of wrongdoing.

In recent years, some companies have sought ways to make parents’ interest and enthusiasm in their children’s jobs work for them. For example, Google and LinkedIn have implemented events such as “Take Your Parent to Work Day,” which they believe can help increase employee morale and subsequently boost productivity and retention. 

At times, it can be awkward and even tense when parents become overly involved in their children’s jobs. That’s why it is important, whichever approach you choose, to adopt clear policies and make sure your youngest workers know what they are.

Brenda Ortega, SHRM-CP, is a knowledge advisor for the Society for Human Resource Management.


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