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How to Effectively Manage Teenage Employees

How to Effectively Manage Teenage Employees

If your small business falls into the retail, food service, or leisure industry, there’s a good chance you have a few teenage workers on staff. Hiring younger staff members to fill hourly positions in these areas can be a great idea, as they’re often willing to work during your busiest night and weekend shifts, and they don’t demand a high rate of pay.

Although teenage employees can be great workers, as their boss it’s important to know how to communicate with them, and learn to adapt your business practices to work with their generation. Managing a 16 year old worker is probably going to require a different approach than you would use on a 35 year old employee.


Understanding Your Employees… Of Course

When trying to relate to very young workers, it’s important to view their differences as an advantage, not something that they’re doing wrong. There’s a fine line between generational differences in behavior and acting inappropriately, so before you correct them for certain behaviors, stop to consider whether they’re simply working in a way you’re not used to or if they’re actually doing something wrong. Having teenagers on staff can help your small business to better relate to their demographic, as they can give you ideas of things they’re into and how to attract customers of their age group.

It’s important to remember that teenagers are still just kids, so be sure to compliment them when they’ve gone above and beyond on a task and reward good behavior. Not only will this encourage them to keep doing good work in the short-term, it can help to teach them a positive work ethic that may stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Adapting Together

The LA Times wrote a great piece on this subject entitled, “Managers Can Adapt to Teen Employees.” One small business owner interviewed noted that a business practice he has found particularly effective with his teenage employees is to stop posting paper schedules in the back room each week and start putting them online. He also started an online forum where his staff can post shifts they would like to pick up, trade, or get rid of. Teenagers these days are part of the digital era, so this is a great way to handle administrative issues in a way they can easily adapt to.

Teenagers can be notorious for trying to challenge authority, so it’s important to you demand respect from day one. Set expectations for your staff, so they know what behaviors you expect of them and understand the consequences if they choose to ignore the policies of your small business. This includes setting ground rules for things like coming in late, calling off sick, wearing proper attire, showing respect for customers and fellow employees, and so on.

If your small business can benefit from hiring teenagers, doing so can be a great idea. Many of these kids become very loyal employees who will work for your company for the duration of their high school years and often times even when they’re home for college breaks. Teenagers add a youthful energetic presence to your company that makes it more fun for both the rest of your staff and your customers.

Article written by: Laura Woods - Laura (Jerpi) Woods is a freelance writer living the California dream in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband. She has six years of marketing experience, with the past three spent as a marketing copywriter. Laura has a BA in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.

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