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Motivating Part Time Employees: What Works

By Barbara Wold, Retail & Consumer Tips, 11/6/2007
Around the holidays retailers tend to hire part-time employees. Yet many find it's hard to motivate part-time employees. They often do low-level work, have little chance for advancement, and are treated as outsiders by full-time employees. So how do managers overcome these problems and turn their part-time staff into a potent force? Here are some proven methods.

  1. Orient them properly. Take time to describe job duties and go over the basic rules, e.g., are personal calls allowed? Important: Avoid confusion by clearly identifying who is allowed to give the part-time worker assignments.
  2. Assign a mentor. Even after proper orientation, part-time workers will be confused. Assign a full-time worker to be a mentor. The part-time worker will feel more like part of the team, and the mentor will feel good about the added responsibility. Important: Pick someone who is patient and has the time to answer the questions.
  3. Mix up the work load. Don't overload part-time workers with "grunt" tasks only. It's a common temptation to assign all low-level work to part-time employees. Don't! It's demoralizing. Important: Find out what kind of specialized skills the part-time worker has, and take advantage of them.
  4. Eliminate any hard feelings between part-timers and full-timers from the start. Make sure full-time employees know why you're bringing in part-time help -- and that their jobs are not being threatened. Important: Sell them on the idea that this is going to make their jobs easier.
  5. Offer flexible hours. Many part-time workers have special situations that require them to work only part-time. Use that to your advantage. By allowing flexible work hours, you'll retain your part-time workers longer, eliminating the need for costly retraining. Important: Make sure part-time employees clear all scheduling conflicts in advance, to avoid confusion.
  6. Offer financial incentives. Most companies don't offer part-time workers bonuses. That's a mistake. Set up a bonus plan based on company revenues. Give them a reason to get excited about their jobs. Important: Offer part-time employees a higher wage than standard. It will prevent competitors from raiding your employees and forcing you to retrain new ones.
Copyright 2005. Reprinted with permission from Barbara Wold's Retail & Consumer Tips, bwold@ix.netcom.com
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