Part-time workers are a great asset to small businesses. They are cheaper than full-time employees and offer businesses more flexibility. These benefits are part of why we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of part-time jobs in the United States: according to the recent U.S. Labor Department employment report numbers, nearly 20 percent of the workforce in the United States are now part-time workers.
But increasing numbers of part-time employees also present unique challenges: Part-time workers tend to be less committed than full-timers, there is higher turnover, and often workers are less skilled. Here are a few ideas for overcoming these drawbacks, getting the most out of your staff, and helping them get the most out of their time with you:
1. Set sales goals.
Many people have an innate desire to do a good job, and the best employees are always striving to do better. Help employees achieve success by defining what a good job looks like specifically in their role. Try setting sales or revenue goals. This gives workers something to strive for, and helps them relate their daily work to overarching business goals. Clearly stated goals also establish a baseline for coaching and performance discussions later on.
2. Share accountability.
It can be difficult for part-time employees to feel like they are part of the business. Encourage staff to think like owners by asking them to take charge of specific business challenges. Make sure the challenge targets a problem you’ve noticed. Assign someone to come up with ideas to reduce waste, another to lower costs, someone to market via social media, and someone to take on filling appointments. Make sure to empower employees with tools. Making people accountable for outcomes, not just tasks, makes them accountable for real business results.
3. Make it a game.
There’s no reason work has to feel like work. As soon as employees have goals, incentivize them with friendly contests. For example, with Perka you can start a contest to see which employee signs up the most customers for a loyalty program.
4. Train staff regularly.
Every month, identify processes and tasks that could use improvement, and come up with creative ways to train staff. Salons can offer employee makeover night to train new services and experiment with new looks. If you’re a bar or restaurant offering a new special, have a contest to see who can make it the fastest without help.
Try reversing roles during a role play so staff have the opportunity to experience the business from a different perspective. For example, let a beleaguered bartender re-enact the worst customer experience ever. It will let them vent and help the team brainstorm how to improve the customer service experience going forward. Switching up roles will also give them insights into how to improve things, and will encourage them to teach each other tricks for faster or better service.
5. Ask, don’t tell.
There are few faster ways to engage employees than to ask their opinions. Share business concerns with staff—like how to increase ticket sales, encourage newsletter signups, or get new customers, and let them know you’ll be asking for ideas in your next staff meeting so they have time to think about it.
Also, make sure to ask employees in one-on-one meetings whether they have hidden talents they’d like to try out in the business. You may have a social media influencer on staff, or a brilliant marketer. Discover what they are most passionate about and encourage them to use their favorite skills at work.
6. Promote from within.
Employees who can envision their future at a business tend to perform better than workers who feel their job is temporary or a dead end. Reward high-performing employees by promoting them. Celebrate their performance and loyalty to help inspire other employees to higher performance.
Likewise, reward superb customer service ratings. Don’t just honor individuals. Often good customer experiences are a team effort. Promoting high-performers and delegating some of your work to them helps free you up for more important tasks.
7. Honor flexibility.
People often choose to work part time to help balance work-life conflicts. Honor these concerns by trying to adapt as much as possible to their schedule or by coming up with flexible work arrangements. Let them trade shifts if they need to. Clover’s app Time Clock makes employee scheduling, swapping shifts, managing time off requests, and notifying employees of changes simple.
Get more ideas on how to manage your workforce in the Clover App Market.[image: LeDiplomate9.14Q.NW.WDC.9May2015 by Elvert Barnes on flickr]