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How to Manage a Young Staff

June 7, 2016

More than one in three workers today is a millennial, according to Pew Research. That makes the millennial generation the largest in the U.S. workforce. Especially if your business runs on primarily part-time labor, you’ve likely got a lot of millennials on board. Do you know how to manage them effectively?

If retaining a young staff is an issue for your business, take a tip from a small business that’s doing it well. Glenwood Adventure Company is an outdoor activity company based in Colorado. They offer customers a wide range of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and more. In the past six years, they’ve expanded from a staff of 8 to a staff of 113, spread across four different locations around the state. Because the work is part-time and mostly seasonal, that spread-out, rapidly growing staff largely consists of young people between 16 and 30 years old.

How does Glenwood Adventure Company attract and retain this young staff? How does Ken Murphy, the company’s president, create an atmosphere that keeps these young workers coming back summer after summer? Here are three things Glenwood Adventure Company does to attract and retain a young staff:

1. They make it easy for workers to check and change their schedules on the go.

Young workers, especially if they’re working part-time, are juggling a lot of priorities. They may have more than one job, or they may be in school. They definitely have friends and family they want to spend time with. Rather than struggling to make them work with a traditional scheduling system, why not be flexible from the start? Glenwood Adventure Company uses Time Clock by Homebase, which allows its workers to check their schedules, request changes, and even ask colleagues to switch shifts, all from their smartphones. That means Murphy doesn’t have to keep running around to his four different locations, posting and updating schedules. Better yet, scheduling data is automatically integrated into their Clover POS.

2. They offer plenty of growth opportunities.

Murphy is keenly aware of the importance of growth opportunities to workers who are just beginning their careers. Of course, it helps that Glenwood Adventure Company is growing rapidly. Staff can easily start out guiding biking tours and then add new responsibilities. But Murphy has also made helping his staff grow a priority–some workers have advanced into management, gone back to school, or gotten certified as EMTs. These kinds of activities not only make them better, more dedicated staff today, they help prepare these young workers for their future careers. That’s the kind of opportunity that builds loyalty. “Luckily, I started with a wonderful…crew, and they’ve brought in friends,” Murphy says. “I think word got out that we were a good growing company to be involved with.” Considering that many of Glenwood’s customers are active young people, strong word-of-mouth is not only retaining their staff – it’s likely growing their customer base, too.

3. They’re open to new ideas.

Murphy’s young staff is incredibly tech-savvy. “They know how to work the systems better than even I do now,” he says. They’re constantly finding new ways to streamline the company’s processes, or identifying new Clover apps that could be useful. Murphy is always happy to hear these new ideas. He’s humble enough to listen when a staff member comes to him with a suggestion, and flexible enough to be comfortable running a business that’s constantly evolving.

 

Numerous studies have shown that millennial workers like to be treated as individuals and given lots of opportunities to grow. They want to feel like they’re part of a team, not just a cog in a machine. Glenwood Adventure Company’s example shows some concrete ways that even very small businesses can create the kind of atmosphere that will attract and retain these young, energetic, ambitious workers.