It was pretty well known what my internal policy was on parent involvement with new hires for lifeguard jobs, swim jobs and aquatics jobs in general. I think many in my industry, as well as many others who primarily employ high schoolers/teenagers feel (or felt) the same way. We dont want any!! But like my love for The New Kids on the Block, this too much change.
Starting in the Fall of 2017, Premier Aquatics will require that all new team members who are under 18 years of age, are required to have their parents attend a pre-employment orientation with a Premier Aquatics manager. This new policy is a very different take on the way I have done business in the past, and needless to say, the "me" of old, would be very disappointed in the "me" of current, but the "me" of old will just have to get over it.
In the past, my very strict policy was to do anything and everything in my power to avoid parent involvement when it came to employment. If a parent called to ask about paperwork, we would refuse to talk with them and would explain how they are damaging their kids by doing their homework for them. If a parent called about a paycheck question, I instructed my staff to explain how we only want to talk to the employee. If a parent showed up to an interview to sit in our waiting room, it would be a sign of an uphill battle to earn a job with Premier. I mean, lets be honest; if a 17 year old can't have adult conversations and take responsibility for his or her actions, how could he or she be expected to make life and death decisions in the time of need, and how could he or she be expected to converse and relate to our adult clientele when they can't ask our office manager how much he or she would be getting paid?
Well, the reality is this... the new workforce, the millennial workforce, is different than the workforce of the past. Now let me clear... different does not mean worse, nor does it mean better. But trust me when I say that they are different, the motivations are completely different, and the level of independence (in my experience) is far less than employees of the past. Even staff from 5 years ago, behave differently than staff of today. New staff are now motivated by continued learning and growth within the company, and when we cannot offer that to them fast enough, they are instantly bored and ready to move on. In the same breath, their parents are 100% on board with their childs desire to stay engaged and happy to go to work, and often times they support their childs sometime rash decision to abandon ship because of boredom (or confusion). What we are left with is unfilled shifts and an angry management staff, which is good for no one.
To me, this is good news. The fact that I am staring straight at a group of staff members that are dying to by given more responsibility, taught more, and relied on more is awesome. The lack of commitment when they arent feeling challenged is something that is hard to get my head around; but the fact that they want to get better, and do better work for my company is great, so why not allow their parents to help with the transition into the professional world.
So how does parent orientation help me with this?
- Educated parents = Educated staff members - Often, new staff members feel uncomfortable talking with me or my management team about things like pay, schedule changes, and the like. Instead of confronting us and asking questions, they instead tune out and we often lose them quicker than we can reach out. Even with our 2, 4, and 6 week check-ins with new staff by a manager, we still find them feeling uncomfortable. By educating parents, we will give the staff members an additional resource to turn to when navigating employment with Premier Aquatics.
- Educated parents = A new team of supporters and champions - What is the downside of talking about how great your company is to a group of local adults? In my eyes, NOTHING. By teaching a group of parents about my small business, what it takes to operate it, who we are and where we have come from can do nothing but promote pride in my company, and more importantly, a group of parents who are proud that their kids have earned a spot on my staff team.
- Educated parents = Young staff members who will be pushed by their parents to stick with us, even when they don't get the schedule they want. In addition, educated parents will provide support for their kids. They will remind kids to request a day off for a family trip, instead of staff member who calls the night before because their parents "surprised" them with a trip.
In short, the more I educate parents, employees, friends, family, etc. about how great my company is, and how important even the lowest level lifeguard is to my organization, the better off I will be. So with that, here's to a motivated educated family who love my business and what we represent. In addition, I may have found new clients to participate in my American Red Cross CPR classes, or customers for my lifeguard services for their HOA or family parties.
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Mom and Dad, make sure your involvment doesnt stop with getting your child working. Its important to remember that although this might be your childs first job, but having them think smart from Day 1 is the key. An example is seen here in this USA Today Article. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/05/26/summer-jobs-help-your-teen-use-their-earnings-wisely/102114034/