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How To Motivate Part-Time Employees

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Employee motivation.. It’s something all employers must focus on in order to get the most out their employees. For retail owners, whose employees are often part-time, the charge of motivating employees can be even more challenging. Part-time jobs attract a full range of workers —- from students to retirees to people who may just want to earn extra cash and may not see the position as a career. How do you get the most out of this diverse group of employees who work a limited number of hours each week? No matter how many hours an employee clocks in at the end of the week, the key to successfully motivation is targeting the needs and wants of the employee. For this reason, part-timers should not be lumped into the same program as full-timers.

Companies are often fearful that different programs for different segments of the workforce appear discriminatory, and favor one-size-fits-all incentives. As a result, the needs of part-time employees may be ignored. When someone says "we treat everyone the same,’ it’s the same thing as saying, We never thought of treating them differently.’

But, part-time employees should be treated differently — after all, they are different. Recognizing these differences and instituting appropriate policies, rewards, and considerations lets part-time employees — and all other employees — know that part-timers are an important and valued part of the company. Appreciate part-time employees for the job they do. Everyone knows it is important to acknowledge employees that do a good job if you want them to continue to do such work. If the employee is only at work part-time or brought in as seasonal help, their need to be recognized is as great as any other employee, although their circumstances might make it more inconvenient to thank them. Fortunately, a little appreciation can go a long way. For some employees, having their manager know and use their name and take time to talk with them is thanks enough. Others have great success with thoughtful gifts of coffee mugs, t-shirts, flowers and the like — especially to acknowledge good performance.

You can, however, also be creative in what can be a reward to employees, for example, a choice of next assignments, the ability to work on a project from home, or an educational opportunity can be very rewarding depending on the employee. Take the time get to know your part-time employees and find out what might motivate their extra performance and then deliver such incentives when you receive the desired performance. Treat part-time employees the way you want them to act.

That is, if you want part-time employees to have a long-term perspective, treat them with a long-term perspective. After all, you get more loyalty and productivity from a person you treat as part of a team. This starts with basic consideration and consistent professional treatment–even for employees that may only work with you a few hours a week. Treating part-time employees with courtesy and professionalism will help establish your reputation as a desirable employer to work for and thus serve as a draw for additional talent when it is needed. Provide new challenges.

No one wants to do the same boring job over and over, day after day. And while there will always be boring, repetitive tasks to accomplish in any job, everyone should have at least a part of their job be of high interest to them. As management theorist Frederick Herzberg put it, "If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do." Offer part-timers new challenges by moving them around the store and exposing them to new jobs. Even more motivating, let part-time workers take part in the decision of what tasks they would like to tackle. Making them a part of the decisions that affect their jobs is highly motivating to most employees. Assign a mentor. Even though you have provided instruction, part-timers may still be confused and feel out of the loop. Assign them a full-time worker to be their mentor.someone they can go to for help and learn from. This will help the part-time worker feel welcome and part of the team. Encourage employees to take initiative.

There is nothing that motivates employees more then when he or she is supported for showing personal initiative or for going out on a limb to provide better service or products to a customer — and this means part-time employees as well. For example, all sales associates at Parisian’s department store, based in Alcoa, Tennessee, are encouraged to make independent decisions in solving customer complaints. The only person that is allowed to say "no" to a customer is the store manager.

This motivates sales people by encouraging them to think for themselves. Give them the resources to be productive. Information is power, and your employees want to be empowered with the information they need to know to do their jobs better and more effectively. This can range from the right equipment to do the job they were hired to do to access to others when they have a question. This also includes the right orientation and training, especially about knowledge that could not be hired such as company products and services, internal procedures and administrative requirements. And, more than ever, employees want to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. To gain the most from part-time employees, show them how their jobs relate to the overall goals and strategies of the companies. Make an ongoing effort to communicate.

The importance of communication is almost a clich, but its value can’t be underestimated. For example, don’t assume that part-time employees will tell you if they are having problems or don’t clearly understand an assignment. Although this may seem basic, many employees would prefer to silently suffer through poor directions rather than to risk seeming slow to grasp an assignment–and possibly being labeled as difficult to work with. Instead, you need to take the burden to constantly be checking with the employee to see if they have any questions or need any help. Make every personal interaction count to find out how the employee is doing and how you can better help them.

Finding out where employees stand can also be done through simple survey techniques such as a questionnaire that is periodically given to employees at certain milestones (as in every six weeks) or with their paychecks. Consider using many different communication vehicles to get your message across and heard: payroll stuffers, newsletters, face-to-face meetings, informal staff meetings, and so forth. Make it fun! Most importantly, make the work environment one in which part-timers enjoy coming to. Fun can be a critical competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and keeping the best part-time employees. Keeping part-time employees motivated to do their best is a very achievable task if done with the right effort at the right time. Make the time and the effort and you’ll reap the benefits.

Top 10 Ways to Motivate Part-Time Employees

1. Appreciate part-time employees for the job they do. Recognize part-time employees if you want them to continue to do a good job.

2. Treat part-time employees the way you want them to act. If you want part-time employees to have a long-term perspective, treat them with a long-term perspective.

3. Provide new challenges. Mix up the workload. Offer part-timers new challenges by moving them around the store and exposing them to new tasks.

4. Assign a mentor. Assign a full-time employee to mentor each part-timer.

5. Encourage part-timers to take initiative. Recognize part-time employees for taking the initiative to provide better service or products to customers.

6. Provide the right training and resources. Employees need the right orientation and training to do their jobs well and be most effective.

7. Show part-timers that their jobs matter. Motivate part-timers by showing them how their jobs relate to the company’s overall goals.

8. Communicate. Communication is the lifeline of any company. Constantly talk with part-time employees to see if they have questions or concerns.

9. Make them feel a part of the team. Everyone — especially part -timers — needs and wants to feel a part of the team.

10. Make it fun. Make the work environment an enjoyable place to be.

Bob Nelson, Ph.D., is president of Nelson Motivation Inc and a best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 52nd printing), 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, The Management Bible among others, and teaches organizational behavior at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. For more information or to register for Bob’s FREE Tip of the Week visit www.nelson-motivation.com.

How To Motivate Part-Time Employees
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About Bob Nelson
Bob Nelson, Ph.D., is president of Nelson Motivation Inc and a best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 52nd printing), 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, The Management Bible among others, and teaches organizational behavior at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. For more information or to register for Bob's FREE Tip of the Week visit www.nelson-motivation.com. WebProNews Writer


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