How To Motivate Student Workers During The Summer

By Francine Fluetsch on June 5, 2015

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Summertime is just around the corner for many college students, so many of them will be flocking to your summer job offerings. Since they are done taking classes for the time being, they may get bored easily doing work since they are so burnt out from the school year. Since you don’t want this to hurt your business, here are some ideas to keep your student workers motivated throughout the summer.

Friendly competition

Everyone loves a little competition now and again, especially when there are prizes involved. You can make this competition happen on an individual level, or a companywide level. Maybe you decide that whichever employee gets the most people to sign up for a store credit card within the month will get a gift card of their choosing, or if you want to take it to the store level, whichever store makes their goal the most in a month will get a bonus tacked on to all their paychecks.

What I’ve noticed is having the competition companywide is an awesome way to keep your employees on point and make them work together and bond. Competition on the individual level is great, but some employees may take losing rather hard if the winner is in their midst. If it is storewide, you can give them some competition to metaphorically hate for the time being, which will push them to do better.

Fun events

Host some fun events at your work to bring in more business and keep employees engaged and motivated. At the clothing store I worked at over summer, we had Mary Kay representatives come in one day for a make-up party, and all of the customers got free cake-pops and got to enter for a chance to win some free make-up.

All of us employees liked the event because we got to eat the leftover cake pops (can you say delicious?) and we also got to enter in the make-up giveaway. Having events gives your workplace a change of pace and creates new excitement for the employees to engage in. You can also have the employees plan certain events to give them more responsibility to put on their resumes, as well as being able to show off their creative ideas.


Your employees won’t get bored over summer if they know their efforts are going towards something. Maybe their hard work could land them a promotion, a party at the end of summer, a weekend off now and again. Whatever you choose to be their bait to produce better work, use it for all it’s worth. You’d be surprised how much of an extra mile people will go if they know their efforts will be rewarded.

Your incentive could be as easy as a free lunch. If you don’t know what to offer the students, consider asking them some ideas as to what they would like as incentives for working hard. They might come up with some great (and easy) ideas.

Words of encouragement

Positive words go a long way. If you notice an employee doing a good job, make sure to tell them. It’s an easy gesture on your part, and really means a lot to them to just get acknowledged for their efforts. Constructive criticism is always great as well, but some praise can really make someone’s day, and show them that you appreciate them and they are a valued member of your team.


If you have some connections that your employees could use later in life, make sure to slyly mention this to them. They’ll want to impress you even more than before, and their efforts will be to your benefit. College students are all about climbing the ladder to the next level, and they all know how far connections could get them. Get to know your employees and see if their interests match with anyone that you know and then let their work do the talking.

Work themes

You know how in high school there were those spirit days where everyone got to dress up? Who says that has to end? Everyone loves dressing up and getting creative, and bringing some fun into the workplace that isn’t too distracting is a great way to keep your college employees motivated and producing good work.

You could have something simple like casual Friday, or you can have themes like “jungle book,” “pajama extravaganza,” “dress like another employee,” etc. You really want to hype the events up and make sure that you participate as well. Employees always appreciate when their boss can be silly too.

College kids may have short attention spans some of the time, but there are plenty of ways for you to keep them engaged in their work. Keep it fun, keep it fresh, and make sure to mix it up every once in a while. Who knows, you might get a kick out of it too.

By Francine Fluetsch

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz
Hi! I'm Francine and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at UC Santa Cruz. I am one of the Campus life columnists on Uloop's National Team and also the campus editor for UCSC. I enjoy reading, writing, and taking selfies with my cat.

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