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Top 10 Ways to Motivate Part-Time Employees

Their jobs matter, and you should show them that.

November 1, 1999
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A recent survey by Hewitt Associates found that 95 percent of employers polled have part-time employees in their workforce. Among these companies, the ratio of part-timers to full-timers ranges from less than 1 percent to as much as 90 percent, and nearly half said their ratio of part-timers to full-timers has risen in the last five years. More than 50 percent indicated that they expect the ratio to increase further in the next five years.

Part-time jobs attract a full range of workers—students, retirees, working mothers (and dads for that matter), or those wanting to earn extra cash and may not see the position as a career. With the number of part-time employees expected to grow, a critical question becomes: How do you get the most out of this diverse group of employees who work a limited number of hours each week?

  • Appreciate part-time employees for the job they do. Recognize part-time employees if you want them to continue to do a good job.
  • 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. Talk about where they want to be in five years, for example, or what skills they are interested in learning.
  • Provide new challenges. Mix up the workload. Offer part-timers new challenges by moving them around the store and exposing them to new tasks. Give them a choice of assignments whenever possible.
  • Assign a mentor. Assign a full-time employee to mentor each part-timer.
  • Encourage part-timers to take initiative. Recognize part-time employees for taking the initiative to provide better service or products to customers.
  • Provide the right training and resources. Employees need the right orientation and training to do their jobs well and be most effective. Ask them what would help and deliver on it.
  • Show part-timers that their jobs matter. Motivate part-timers by showing them how their jobs relate to the company's overall goals.
  • Communicate. Communication is the lifeline of any company. Constantly talk with part-time employees to see if they have questions or concerns.
  • Make them feel a part of the team. Everyone—especially part-timers—needs and wants to feel a part of the team. Invite them to attend department meetings or off-hours social events.
  • Make it fun. Make the work environment an enjoyable place to be. The more fun your workplace is, the more likely that employees will do their best—and stay with your firm longer.

SOURCE: Bob Nelson, President of Nelson Motivation, Inc., located in San Diego, CA and author of the new book 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work.

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