5 Tips for Managing Part-Time Workers

by Susan Johnston on September 20, 2012
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With the economy still shaky in many parts of the country, small businesses continue to use part-time workers to staff their operations. Part-timers may cost less than full-timers, because they aren’t entitled to overtime pay or health benefits, but they can pose other challenges.

“When you’re not full-time, you feel different, and if you feel different, your productivity and morale might be impacted,” says George Boué, vice president of human resources at Stiles, a Florida-based real estate company.

Boué has blogged about effective strategies for managing temps and part-timers. Here are five of his tips:

  1. Hold meetings when part-timers are present. Don’t exclude part-timers from meetings that pertain to them or expect them to come in for a meeting on their day off. “Nothing is worse than not being involved in a meeting that would make them feel left out,” Boué says. “Ensure that other team members are respectful of the fact that someone is part-time.” Including part-timers in important meetings makes them feel like they’re part of the team.
  2. Set aside time to keep part-timers in the loop. Sometimes significant developments occur outside of meetings, and it’s important that part-timers know about these changes. Don’t expect part-timers to know what happened on their day off or assume that someone else will catch them up. “What I typically do is set aside five minutes or so where I meet with my part-timer and bring her up to speed on anything that’s taken place over the past day,” Boué says.
  3. Maintain a consistent schedule. Some restaurants or retail locations change their employee’s shifts on a weekly basis, which doesn’t go over well with many employees, especially those piecing together several jobs. “Employees don’t like to have their schedules changed, because they’re changing their personal time,” Boué notes. “You should try to stick to a particular schedule out of consideration and give the individual enough advance notice [when it changes].”
  4. Create policies for part-timers. “If you’re going to have part-timers, it’s a good idea to have brief policies about the benefits that part-timers can have,” Boué says. That way there’s no ambiguity over what benefits part-timers get (which is often a function of hours worked), and no one feels they’re being treated differently.
  5. If you plan to hire someone full-time in the future, say so. Some part-timers, such as college students or the semi-retired, appreciate working a few shifts without being committed to a 40-hour work week. But many part-timers haven’t been able to find the full-time employment they want due to a tough job market, and they’d quickly jump ship if offered a full-time job. According to Boué, there’s not much you can do about that retention risk unless you (truthfully) plan to hire someone full-time in the future and communicate that plan to your part-timer.

Susan Johnston is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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