Managing Teen Workers

With summer just around the corner, students are preparing for seasonal job opportunities.  Some employers may shy away from hiring inexperienced teen workers. They tend to have limited schedules and are subject to stricter federal and state employment laws. However, these enthusiastic and energetic workers can become valuable assets to your company. You’ll need to employ a special set of interviewing and training techniques when on-boarding these green workers to your team. How can you recruit and manage the teen workforce for a successful summer season? 

Read further for tips on recruiting and managing teen workers:

1: Interviewing Tips

It is likely that these young workers have little to no interview experience. Try not to let their lack of interviewing skills or professionalism be mistaken for lack of ability to learn and ultimately shine in a particular internship or seasonal job. Though you should be mindful of red flags such as tardiness, an obvious indifference or negative attitude. You may need to ask them more leading questions as well as some specific follow up prompts. Here is an example: Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenge. How did you overcome it? What did you learn from it? How could you have better handled the challenge? Don’t assume they will know that they should have done homework on your company before their interview. You will most likely be giving them more information on your company culture, the detailed job duties and your expectations of them while performing in the role.

2: Laws, Training, and Safety

Be vigilant when making sure your teen workers adhere to employment laws. Most states require work permits and have limits on the amount of hours teens are allowed to work in a given day or week. Be sure to understand and enforce your state’s laws for workers under the age of 18. While the length of employment for summer interns and seasonal workers is short term, they still need the same training as any long term employee. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a 2014 survey reported that employees between ages 16 and 19 were sent to the emergency room more than twice as much as workers 25 and older. Use clear and informative on-boarding safety training for all new employees. Try creating buddy systems and pair your inexperienced employees with more seasoned employees for guidance.

3: Managing

Your younger workers will require more hands on management techniques. While they have the ability to learn, remember that they are less experienced in the workforce and may have limited understanding of accountability and professionalism. They may take out their cell phones on the clock or have their parents call in sick for them. Take the time and mentor your younger workers and help them learn the basic rules of the workplace. You will need to be direct and communicate with them often, this will help them to better integrate into your workforce.

4: Retain and Engage

Retaining these young workers may come with its own challenges. Try to make your young workers feel as if they have a purpose within your company and that you are willing and able to give them the opportunity to learn and grow. Recognizing hard work with praise and bonuses can be effective motivational tools. A good example is a gift card for completing their internship or job contract.

Teen workers can be a valuable asset to your organization, even if it is just for the summer season. This will most likely be the first real job for some of these teens. The training and skills learned from you will be essential to their growth. This could even be the first step in their career path with your company. Let them know that they can return for their holiday breaks and again the following summer. Making sure they have proper training and guidance to engaging in your culture will not only help set them up for success but it will plant the seed for a strong and capable workforce.