4 Ways To Motivate Student Workers This Winter

By Julia Dunn on December 1, 2015

As the temperature drops outside, all students want to do this time of year is curl up inside with endless hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, blankets and minimal responsibilities.

After weeks and weeks of classes and studying, the feeling of fall turning to winter is enough to remind students of how exhausted they are and that finals are coming soon. However, a large number of students also have jobs to which they must attend–can’t forget about those!

Employers will likely notice the drop in energy that their student employees exhibit around this time of year (it’s understandable–we work hard!) and the amount of motivation students have to go to work seems directly proportional to the temperature outside (especially if you attend college or work in a town that receives “true” winters complete with slushy ice and snowfall).

Here are a few ways employers can help their tired student employees get through their shifts and keep motivated to arrive on time to deliver quality work.

1. Give praise when praise is deserved.

Students can never get enough reassurance that they’re doing something right–many of us are already uncertain enough about what we’re doing with our lives, so some extra confidence boosts at work can’t hurt. No matter how small the task, if your student workers did something especially well while on the job, let them know.

Praising student workers is great for morale.
Image Via Pixabay.com

Even if it was one cordial interaction with a difficult customer or a professional-looking window display, make sure your student employees know that their contributions really are appreciated and valued. Students will feel successful and more motivated to continue their great work if they receive positive feedback when they deserve it.

2. Create a reward for strong work attendance.

It can be easy for students to start slacking in attendance during the colder months–not only are the elements harsh enough weather-wise to make students think twice about leaving home for work, but students are busy managing midterms, final exams, and extracurricular activities as the term comes to an end.

To motivate your student employees to arrive to work on time despite many other distractions (or sheer laziness), create an incentive or reward for workers who have few or no absences or tardiness. This reward could be anything–maybe your student employees can earn one paid day off for every 25 work days they arrive on time, or maybe a week of perfect attendance will allow your employees to choose their “favorite” work task on a certain day.

It could be fun to even schedule a few get-togethers outside of work for your workers to socialize and bond over a fun activity (dinner, bowling, dessert, etc).

Rewards don’t need to be very fancy to brighten up a work shift.
Image Via Pixabay.com

3. Make students happy to be at work.

One of the best ways to get students through their work shifts is to make them comfortable at work. Show interest in their needs–maybe put out a few bags of yummy snacks for their break, let them listen to music, joke around with them, and ask students about their lives or if anything exciting is happening at school.

Student employees usually enjoy talking about themselves, so the more you connect with them on a personal basis, the more comfortable they’ll feel at work. Of course, if students don’t want to talk about classes or academics, respect that.

4. Teach your workers valuable skills that relate to their goals.

Depending on the job, your student employees may be working in their position to gain real-world skills they can use in their intended career path. Invest in your student employees and make the effort to teach them about the industry you’re in.

Students will be more excited about coming to work if they feel like they’re getting something out of the experience, so help them develop their skills. College students don’t want to feel like they’re wasting their time (especially in school, when time is extra valuable), and they’ll appreciate any opportunity to learn something useful. Jobs in college are just as much of an educational experience as college courses themselves.

5. Value their ideas.

Employers should be grateful to have students as their employees–students have a lot of innovative ideas that deserve to be heard. Make sure that you communicate with your employees to get input on solving problems that come up at work, and open a dialogue where your employees feel safe expressing their thoughts about efficiency and procedures at work.

Students who feel silenced or ignored likely will not feel comfortable contributing their input to their work environment, while students who feel empowered at work may give your organization wonderful ideas about optimizing the workplace for maximum productivity. Treating your student employees well can only help you as an employer.

Student workers should feel free to voice their ideas at work.
Image Via Pixabay.com

As long as you show that you care about their success and happiness at work, it isn’t terribly hard to keep students motivated to come to work in the depths of winter. Of course students aren’t perfect and may miss a shift or two from time to time, but that’s to be expected–do remember that as students are students before anything else, their academic responsibilities may occasionally intervene with work.

To keep your student employees coming to work with a positive outlook, make sure to stay flexible, stay welcoming, and stay relaxed. Your brilliant student employees are an asset to your organization, and they deserve to know they are needed.

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz
I am a graduate student in the Creative Writing MFA program at San Jose State University. I specialize in creative nonfiction writing and poetry, as well as composition studies.

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