A Sporting Goods Industry Leader recently told me that one of his biggest challenges was getting part-time employees to give more effort. He explained that his part-timers were just not engaged in their work and didn’t give nearly the effort as his full-time employees. The worst part was their lack of engagement was having a negative effect on overall customer experience. Let’s be honest, with all the options to buy things, if a customer has a poor experience in your store, they are unlikely to return.
One thing that concerned me was the leader seemed to chalk this up to full-time versus part-time, and gave me the impression that it was the expected behavior from his part-timers. However, it doesn’t have to become the norm in your organization… you can get full-time effort from your part-time employees and ensure your customer has a great experience.
After talking to this leader for a while, it was apparent the part-timers were treated a lot differently than the full-timers… quite frankly, they were treated like outsiders! They didn’t get the same special benefits as full-timers; their hourly wages were significantly lower; they weren’t included with team brainstorming discussions; they weren’t asked for suggestions; and they were given the shifts that everyone else turned down—primarily late nights and weekends. After hearing this, it was quite easy to see why they weren’t very motivated. I offered him 5 tips to get his part-timers motivated and producing more like full-timers… and most importantly, to enhance customer experience.
Here’s the 5 Tips:
1. Consistently Tell Them How Valuable They Are
Part-timers are a vital link to the success of your organization and to the customer experience. Ensure they understand their role from the very beginning so they know what is expected of them and how valuable they are to the team. Explain to your part-timers how critical they are to the overall mission of the organization, and the value they bring to both the full-timers and the customers. Ensure they understand that without them, the organization could not survive! The most important thing is to never downplay the role of a part-time employee… you need them—ensure they know they are appreciated.
2. Offer Incentives
It is standard procedure for most organizations to give better benefits to their full-timers; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer some type of incentives to your part-timers. Think of creative incentives that reward them for working the unpopular shifts and weekends, and for learning various tasks. People respond to a variety of incentives, so make sure you understand what they value, then create incentives that compliment those values.
3. Set Them Up with a Mentor
Part-timers understand they are not going to get the amount of hours that your full-timers get (in most cases). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop their skills as you do with your full-timers. By setting them up with a mentor who is a full-timer, to “show them the ropes” of working for your organization, you create a “sense of belonging” for them, which can easily convert to a feeling of ownership. This also reduces conflict between part-timers and full-timers as the mentor will slowly begin to take the part-timer “under their wing.”
4. Involve Them
The more involved your part-timers are with various parts of the daily operations, the more they will engage with their work. Your part-timers will surprise you if you get them involved and ask for their suggestions on certain daily tasks. Your part-timers may actually be more connected to your customers than your full-time employees are, because they spend more time outside of your store than your full-timers. Your part-timers can see your customers from an entirely different perspective. The more your part-timers see that you value their input and suggestions, the more their level of engagement will rise.
5. Get to Know Them
The more time you spend getting to know your part-timers, the more they will feel like they are truly a part of the team. One of the most important things to get to know about your part-timers is their goals and aspirations… figure out what they want and show them you can help. The quicker you figure this out, the quicker you can begin helping them achieve their goals. Ultimately, the more you show them that you are there to help them, the more they will care about the organization. People thrive in working environments where their leaders know them and care about them.
Run to your Challenges! Every leader will face the challenge of wanting to get more work out of his/her part-timers, and there is no reason to avoid this challenge. By running towards this challenge and following the 5 tips above, you can motivate your part-timers to give full-time effort and most importantly, improve your customer’s overall experience. Let me know what you think… what ideas do you have to motivate your part-timers to get them more engaged?