Whether you’re supervising a young college student who’s dashing to and from classes in between her job or an older worker who’s in semi-retirement, managing a part-time employee takes special skills and understanding. Paying attention to the dynamics among full- and part-time staff, for instance, is essential for maintaining an environment of peace and camaraderie. But you’ll need to draw on other talents — yours and theirs — to successfully manage your part-time people.
Here are seven useful tips for keeping and nurturing your part-timers:
- Know your company policy. This may seem obvious, especially if you wrote the policy. Still, it’s critical for you to know the rights of all your employees. Does your company offer any benefits to part-timers? How much vacation, if any, can a part-time employee take? Are you complying with employment laws that govern compensation and equal treatment for all workers?
- Encourage initiative. Don’t assume your part-time workers are on automatic pilot — doing what they’re asked, following up when absolutely necessary, and otherwise doing the job of an automaton. A part-time employee can be just as enthusiastic and motivated as his or her full-time counterpart. But if you treat your part-timers differently, expecting less commitment, for example, they’re likely to behave differently. Avoid that trap by encouraging initiative, and be sure to recognize and reward it just as you would with a full-time worker.
- Match your part-timer with a mentor. Mentors are crucial for anyone’s career, full- or part-time. Assign your part-timers to experienced workers. The mentors don’t need to be part-timers, though that perspective is certainly useful and illuminating. Assigning a mentor will send two messages: that you care about your employee’s progress, and that the part-timer is no different in terms of his or her ability to contribute.
- Offer training and development. Like your full-time workers, part-timers also need (and want) training. Provide opportunities that will help them get the most out of their hours on the job. Ask them directly what kinds of courses would be most beneficial and then do the best you can to deliver.
- Talk and listen. Just because your part-timers log fewer hours in the office doesn’t mean you should shortchange your interaction with them. Stay in touch with these workers on a regular basis. Ask questions about their projects — what’s going well, what’s not, and whether or not they need help. Be sure to listen, too.
- Be inclusive. Make sure your part-timers are visible members of your team. An employee — full- or part-time — who feels excluded may lose motivation and become significantly less productive, something you can’t afford. Why bother? they may conclude if they’re not included in meetings and memos. Make sure, for instance, that they know the team and the team knows them. Ask them, too, if they feel included, and be prepared to address any grievances they may have in this area. Then follow up on your action items. Let your part-time employees know you are counting on them. Make sure you invite them to all company-sponsored events, like holiday parties and community volunteer programs.
- Review organizational structure and practices. Accommodating your part-time professional can be tricky, particularly if full-time work was the only kind put in place at the time of the company’s inception. Is your organizational structure set up to truly make allowances (schedules, workloads, etc.) for part-time employees? How much flexibility is allowed and encouraged? Do the company’s organizational practices need to be revised to accommodate part-time workers? Are they compatible with company policy? Revisit these issues periodically to ensure that you have the tools — and company support — to successfully manage your part-time people. It takes time, but it’s well worth the effort insofar as how it will make people feel (valued and empowered) and what they will do for your business (work hard and stay committed).