More about Helicopter Parents and Boomerang Kids

Welcome to the August 16, 2006 edition of The Total View
published by Success Performance Solutions, Written by Ira S. Wolfe

1.   More about Helicopter Parents and Boomerang Kids

Last week’s column about "Helicopter Parents and Boomerang Kids" generated more activity than I’ve received in a long time. Two responses in particular stood out.  The first was a response from an editor of a major newspaper; her email is reprinted with permission below.  Her comments are especially meaningful: not only are her comments from the workforce trenches, but her industry is one affected most severely by advancements in technology, demographic changes and the pace of business.   The editor asked that her name and newspaper be kept confidential because her comments express her personal viewpoints, not those of her publisher. 

The second response was a pleasant surprise.  As a result of the "Helicopter Parents and Boomerang Kids" posting on our Human Resources Blog (, our blog has been selected as one of the best career sites on the web by CHIMBY: the career advice search engine ( You can read (and receive) The Total View and other postings on HR Blog or Perfect Labor Storm Blog each week by subscribing online at the blog site.  You can respond to columns in The Total View by posting a response on the blog as well as replying to this email.

*******And now the editor’s response to "Helicopter Parents and Boomerang Kids":

It’s all true. It’s a good thing that the newspaper industry is downsizing its print workforce and pumping up its IT presence [this is HUGE in our corporation right now, we’re writing for instant news on the Internet and updating and filling out major stories in the print product].

For me, I think the “perfect storm” has preserved my career. Younger workers don’t want to put in the hours and don’t seem as dedicated to newspapering as the people of my generation. Of course, they could say “retire!” to me tomorrow, but I made it to 20 years with the company last year, so I would be OK.  I think, as long as I can fulfill people’s expectations my job is safe. But if I go, I don’t think they would fill my position because they’re trying to do the move to Online news without more resources. Attrition is making room for new Internet news editors, a sacrifice for the print product. While women in the newsroom once delayed motherhood in hopes of maximizing their career before taking time off for childrearing, they’re now having their babies and expecting to have hours that accommodate their parenting. And their husbands are taking more responsibility with the kids. The men parents are taking maternity leave … not excessive, but they’re using it. 

The helicopter parent aged kids are a real puzzle. An internship at our paper is a REAL plum summer job for student journalists. Good things happen to the careers of kids who get to work here. But they’re a lot softer than even last year’s crop. We had a young man blow off an assignment, just did not go. I didn’t hear the details, but it was the buzz of the newsroom. First they just didn’t assign him to anything else for several days after a good talking to. And apparently he saw the light because he got a scoop right after that on his own and finished his internship on an up note. But the missed assignment likely will remain in his review.

Our news managers are really challenged when handling a multi-generational newsroom like the one we have.  Except for the interns, everyone has a number of years experience, even the newest hires. We had a news staff retreat last week and they asked us oldsters to stand up and talk about what newpapering was like when we started. Then the people in their 50s, the 40s and 30s. And then the youngest ones who are in their late 20s.  The point of the exercise was how the technology has changed.  But there was a considerable block of us that remember hot type, using manual typewriters to write stories on paper that came in rolls and was torn off, cut up and pasted together to accommodate revisions, the blue and dreaded red pens, the spike where killed stories ended up, pneumatic tubes that took the finished stories down to the composing room, the hubbub and cigar/cigarette smoke in the newsroom (computers killed that). 

Every generation had war stories about big news and tough working conditions. But as we older workers were standing there I wondered if those coming up worked as hard as we did to get here and what it will be like when we’re gone.  Not my problem, really, but it will be interesting to see.

To read the full story about "Helicopter Parents and Boomerang Kids", go to
2.  Perfect Labor Storm Alerts # 565 to 566

Don’t miss day-to-day updates on Perfect Labor Storm. Save the Perfect Labor Storm blog to your favorites. 

Just Released! Listen to "Trends That Will Change The Way You Do Business" – FREE Download:

Fact #565:  Some 30 percent of U.S.adults are now considered obese.  One-third of teenagers are now believed to be incapable of passing a treadmill test.  (Source: U.S. Army)

Fact #566:  The National Business Group on Health estimates that each smoker costs employers $3,856 a year in added health-care costs and lost productivity.

Don’t be caught in storm without all the facts. "The Perfect Labor Storm Fact Book: Why Worker Shortages Won’t Go Away" is a must-read leading edge forecast that predicts workforce trends for decades to come. Order your copy today – Only $7.95.

3.  Employee Engagement Surveys

Employee Engagement is the level of commitment an employee has towards the organization. The primary behaviors of engaged employees are: speaking positively about the organization to coworkers, potential employees and customers, having a strong desire to be a member of the organization, and exerting extra effort to contribute to the organization’s success.

Our employee engagement survey system allows you to survey the opinions of your staff in three easy steps, all while targeting the management topics most important to your organization.

For more information about surveying your employees, reply to this email to request a consultation and online demo.

4. Quotes from Hire Authorities

I always tell the kids, "You know what’s great about going the extra mile?  There’s very little traffic.
Jim Larranaga, George Mason University basketball coach

5.  Managing the Generations

No doubt about it. The newest diversity issue in the workplace is age diversity. Many organizations have finally figured out how to recruit young talent only to watch them drive down a collision course with seasoned employees over issues like work ethic, respect for authority, dress code and every work arrangement imaginable.

To learn what you can do about dealing with Generational Conflicts:

More about the Generational Style Assessment:

More about Manager’s Pocket Guides to Managing the Generations:

Managing the Generation Mix

Managing Generation Y

Managing Generation X

Ira S. Wolfe Copyright 2006 – All Rights Reserved. Reprints and other distribution by permission only.


Ira S Wolfe