It seems almost daily we see companies, city leaders and economic developers talk about the importance of attracting and retaining Young Professionals, also known as YPs. These organizations are trying to figure out ways to retain the YPs. Economic developers plan more shopping destinations and dining options. Companies offer competitive wages, relaxed dress codes and happy hours to attract them. Leaders refer to them as the future of their city.
It seems like everyone is missing the true YP population they should want to retain: the Young Professional Parents. We like to call them YP2s.
While a date on a birth certificate might qualify somebody as a Young Professional, where they are at in their personal life will categorize them as a YP2 . The YP2 is a tough spot to be in; too many obligations outside of the home to play kickball or grab a cocktail after work, but still eager to form friendships in the office. This gap in networking groups asks a bigger question: is anybody recognizing the importance of Young Professional parents? And more importantly, what are businesses doing to attract and retain them?
It’s Not Just about Money: A competitive wage is attractive to YPs because money talks. But to a YP2, there are other ways to make the position more appealing. Consider offering flexible work schedules, work from home options or daycare assistance. Working parents are essentially paying to come to work.
In the US, childcare is the highest household expense, even outpacing mortgages. A 2014 CNN Money report stated the monthly average US mortgage payment is $900, while the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies reports the average household pays $11,666 per year, or $972 per month, for one child in daycare. Couple that with the fact that many of them moved away from their families to come to the big city to pursue a career. This means there isn’t a family member nearby to help out when they’re in pinch. Even if family was in town, chances are grandma and grandpa are still working a full-time job because the aging workforce is a real thing.
Ask yourself: If there is a snow day at school, would you be okay if your employee brought their (well-behaved) child to the office?
After Hours Activities: It’s no secret the YP population thrives in a happy hour environment, but for YP2s that is a tough extracurricular to attend. Besides trying to juggle schedules or coordinate a babysitter, it also means somebody else will be tucking the kids in to bed that night. We’ve been seeing companies offering more opportunities for workers to include their families in after-hours networking events.
Instead of planning happy hour at a bar, consider coordinating company picnics or a company outing. There is a company in Central Ohio that has quarterly office celebrations, but instead of getting a cake and crowding the employees in the break room, he reserves a bounce house at a local party center and invites his employees and their families to celebrate. It actually costs less than buying a cake each time an employee has a birthday, and is well-received event by all who attend.
Ask yourself: Would you be willing to nix weekly and monthly happy hours in favor of a quarterly or annual family-friendly outing?
Hire more YP2s: It’s about company culture. If you have a staff full of young, single people you run the risk of the YP2 you hired not fitting in with the rest of the group. Both YPs and YP2s areat a different point in their lives, with different priorities – that doesn’t leave much for water cooler chat or a way to find common ground.
YPs often get the attention because they’re able to work crazy hours and have no obligations outside of the home. But employers also need to consider that YPs have no roots tying them down, and sometimes they can get burned out or become bored with their work. At the Happy Home Company, a home repair startup, they specifically recruit parents. Co-founder Doug Ludlow stated that, “Some of the most qualified, talented and passionate people in the (Silicon) Valley are often overlooked,” because they are parents. In addition to seeking YP2s, Ludlow offers amazing perks to accommodate their lives, like unlimited vacation time and “sane, flexible work hours” so parents can be home with their kids at night.
Other companies have taken suit and realized that when they are able to support their YP2s through the most challenging balancing act of their life, they will reward you with the employer’s ultimate dream – loyalty. YP2s are in it for the long haul; if you invest in them, they will invest in you.
Ask yourself: Are you willing to consider making a few adjustments to your company policies, knowing that you will be rewarded with loyalty?
Don’t forget to consider the fact that YPs are really in that category for a very finite time. Fact Tank shares that the average college student in the US graduates between the ages of 22-27, while USA Today reports that the average person in the US becomes a parent at the age of 25. That means some YPs might go straight from a cap and gown to becoming a YP2.
And let’s make sure we recognize that the YP2 does not only apply to women. It applies to men, too. The 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in married-couple families with at least one child, 47.7 percent had both the husband and wife employed full-time. Consider non-married couples and the real number of working parents is surely higher.
So the next time you’re with your staff, look at your YPs and your YP2s and think about who you are focusing on attracting and retaining. Are your investments paying off?