An entrepreneur who hires a parent is often looking to tap the older person’s skills and expertise. “They’re usually being brought in for some specific competency they have,” says Andrew D. Keyt, executive director of the Family Business Center at Loyola University Chicago. Frequently, however, a parent who has retired from a working career is looking for something new and different, which can lead to frustration on both sides.
Adam Kohn, vice chair of Cleveland executive search firm Christian & Timbers, says it’s more common for the job to be seen as something primarily intended to help the parent, either by providing income or by giving a retiree something useful to do.
Either way, it’s important to treat a parent employee like any other employee. Be sure to have a complete job description outlining what you want the parent to do, and don’t expect parental employees to come cheap. Experts say it would be a mistake to pay parents any less–or more–than the market rate.
Also, don’t forget to include an exit strategy. Specify under what circumstances the parent’s employment will end. While it may be easier to hope that such an emotionally charged eventuality won’t occur than to talk about it, a little planning can save a lot of pain. “I have a couple of situations I know of [where the entrepreneur] would like to get rid of the parent, and it’s difficult,” Kohn says.