The CDC is reporting that for the first time ever (as in...ever!) women in their thirties are having more babies than women in their twenties. Just as important, it's not a blip, but the continuation of a trend that's been on the uptick for years. The average age of first-time moms has topped out today at 28 - up nearly four years since just the year 2000.
Family Friendly as a Pivotal Talent StrategyFor those who think Millennials are still but children themselves...think again. Common lore may have Millennials frozen at Hannah Montana (who, by the way, turns 25 this year); but birth years between roughly 1980 and 2004 means a large chunk of Millennials are already well into Parenthood (fun fact: Ross's newborn son on Friends would now be 22). As my colleague Ellen Oliver wrote recently following her visit to the HRE Conference, "Today's predominant Millennial isn't the ambitious 25-year-old with four roommates and a Snapchat habit, but more likely a 37-year-old working mom with a couple of preschoolers and a child care problem."
And the shift marks more than just a statistic. It's a sign that employers should be carefully rethinking their talent strategies. Why? Because it signals a shift in other important areas as well.
Women are more career oriented
A woman who becomes a mom for the first time at 35 has spent her twenties purposefully solidifying her career.
Men are more family oriented
The CDC didn't release statistics on first-time fatherhood, but it seems logical to presume that new dads would also be trending older, and so into equally valuable career territory. And men of this generation have been vocal about their desires to not repeat the all-work-and-no-parenting-model of their own fathers.
New parents are at a valuable stage
A Harvard Business Review article put the average age of first-time supervisors at roughly 30 years old, meaning a 30-something prospective mom or dad has already amassed solid credentials as a leader and knowledge resource.
Replacement is expensive...and difficult
Just as parents have made a shift, so has the talent market. Costs to replace high-level employees has climbed to as much as 150% of salary. That's assuming you can find a replacement; open jobs have been reported to idle empty for nearly two months.
Millennials are planners
If there's another thing this generation is known for, it's their unapologetic desire for personal as well as professional success. Prospective mothers and fathers told our 2016 Modern Family Index (MFI) that a new baby would likely prompt a job change. Where are they going? To competitors with a family friendly talent strategy (including child care)...even if it meant less money.
Paving the Way for Working Women to Come BackThere's another important reason to take the shift seriously. A giant takeaway from our MFI was that job hopping doesn't start after delivery; prospective moms and dads told us they're already sizing up their career potential pre-pregnancy, basing their success ratio on the experiences of working parents who came before. Cementing the point is the fact that employees without children nevertheless call child care a driving force in job selection. "Having children was built into the company," said one new mom about her successful transition back to work. "It wasn't an inconvenience that was frowned on - it was considered a normal part of a career."
That kind of philosophy isn't just good for employees - it's also the key to employers who can roll with even a seismic change.