Many experts believe that within a few years the U.S. will face a shortfall of 10 million workers, mostly in the frontline service sector. As a result, it is predicted that it will be increasingly more difficult to find employees willing to work for minimum wage or slightly more. There is good news though. More and more part-time workers will be available, thanks to changing beliefs, values, work and job preferences, social needs and retirees who don’t want to retire.
The biggest problem faced by this increasingly important group of workers is the attitudes of their bosses, managers and full-time co-workers, who too often regard the part-timers contributions to the workplace as insignificant. Yes, part-timers are made to feel insignificant when in fact, the opposite is true. Our research reveals that part-timers’ performance scores are approximately 30% higher than full-timers’. Part-timers also show a higher energy level, do not get bored as easily, and are less likely to get caught up in workplace politics. After all, they simply have less time to develop these less desirable habits.
To tap this resource and prevent employee disengagement among highly productive part-timers, you must first view them as genuine contributors to the company. Here are some suggestions to improve the quality of work you get from your part-timers:
- Review your company policies. Reacquaint yourself with policy regarding part-timers’ pay, benefits, schedules and other areas where you may be hanging on to “sacred cows.” Look at part-timers from a fresh viewpoint – mainly from a generational viewpoint. Don’t merely focus on young workers – high school and college students. Also, consider the aging baby boomers, and the 60 and older population – the “not-retirement-ready” workers. Flexibility and a sense of accomplishment are extremely important to this group.
- Show respect for part-timers. Just because they work part-time doesn’t mean they should be relegated to positions that are unimportant, and delegated tasks nobody else wants. Many part-timers build solid relationships with customers – sometimes to the point where customers will only shop during the hours when they work. Give part-timers flexibility in scheduling appointments with customers outside of their normal working hours. This helps build customer loyalty and profitability. Yes, the scheduling may take a little more maneuvering, but you will see valuable results in the end.
- Provide guidance and education. Do not exclude part-timers from training sessions and meetings. Many will voluntarily listen to educational tapes and study training manuals to become better at their jobs. Encourage them to participate in meetings and offer ideas and recommendations. Give them an opportunity.
- Acknowledge their temporary status. It’s no secret that many part-timers will be with you temporarily. Bring this out in the open. Explain that while they may be with you for only a brief time, you will provide them with learning opportunities to help them achieve their goals. All you ask in return is that they be responsible, attentive and give you their best.
- Partner a full-timer with a part-timer. Ask a full-timer to communicate any news, important information, policy changes, meeting notes and general correspondence to the part-timer. Reward the full-time person for this responsibility.
- Touch base regularly with your part-timers. Build a relationship. Do this every other week or at least a minimum of once a month. Find out how they are doing, and offer feedback. The time you spend with part-timers will be noticed by full-timers, and will send the important message that you consider part-timers to be important employees – valuable workers that are worthy of your time.
- Recognize and value seniors who work part-time. Many older employees bring vast experience with them. Many were managers and leaders in their pre-retirement days. Ask them to become mentors. Ask for their advice. Make them feel important. Everyone will benefit.
Part-time workers are becoming a more important component in the workplace. Managers must learn to treat them as genuine contributors to the company in order to keep them engaged.