The economy may be improving, but its effects aren’t yet trickling down to younger workers. Thirty-two percent of 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. workforce were underemployed last month, according to a recent Gallup poll. That’s an increase from March and higher than this time last year.
What can your small business do to help both young workers and yourself? Try hiring a student for the summer. With summer around the corner, new college grads are seeking jobs in droves. And high school graduates are either looking for full-time work or seeking ways to earn money before they head off to college in the fall.
Hiring a young worker either full-time or part-time can bring many advantages to your business. Young people are more tech-savvy, having grown up with technology like social media. So if you need to inject some vitality into your website or are looking for some help getting into the social media game, a young person could be the right choice.
Of course, hiring younger workers who may never have held a “real job” before brings some challenges, too.
I’ve worked with many entry-level employees, and here are some tips that worked for me.
This generation of young employees, in particular, needs some assistance getting used to the ways of the work force. Set standards for your expectations of their behavior and achievements. You may also want to set up an in-house training program to get newbies up to speed. This doesn’t have to be fancy, but simply a way to get them in line with your company’s culture and how things are done.
Regular feedback on how young employees are doing is the best way to keep them on track and stop bad habits before they start. It’s also something today’s young workers welcome and even expect, so don’t be shy about sharing both positive and negative feedback on how they’re performing.
Get out of their way.
Once you’ve got young staffers through “basic training,” give them a couple small projects to handle their way. Set their goals and timeline, and let them figure out the best way to do the job. Often they’ll come up with ideas that surprise you. There’s nothing like having a fresh pair of eyes on the scene to revitalize your business.
Of course, if you’re hiring young employees part time or as interns, make sure you’re following federal and state labor laws regarding part time work and internships. State laws in particular may vary. A SCORE mentor can help you figure out what rules apply to you. Don’t have a mentor yet? Visit the SCORE website to get matched with a mentor and get free one-on-one counseling 24/7.