6 Ways To Boost Student Employee Happiness

By Madison White on January 29, 2016

As complex as young adults are, many college students’ wants can be boiled down to basic needs. Pleasing all of them may be impossible, but pleasing most doesn’t have to be.

Student employees can be easily bogged down by their busy lives. In order to improve their morale, and furthermore, their contributions, here are six ways to boost student employee happiness.

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1. Offer free food.

One of the most primal needs lies in food. College students love food, especially when it’s free. Free food doesn’t mean a lavish feast, but an effort executed well. Small and portable is always a rule worth abiding by. Make sure the break room has a healthy stash of granola bars, crackers, even some candy readily available. This will keep the distracting afternoon hunger at bay. Free food doesn’t always have to come from your pocket though; organizing a potluck can work just as well.

2. Remember birthdays and special events.

Sometimes students will feel lost in numbers: grade point averages, class rank, checking account balance. When they become surrounded by numbers, it isn’t hard for them to see themselves as one. Make your student employees feel like more than just another money-making machine.

You’ve inquired about their lives enough to know some facts about them. If you know they’re training for a marathon, ask how it’s going or how they did after the race. Keeping track of their birthdays can do wonders as well. Find some M&Ms and a simple card for the office to sign and you’re set. I was delighted to find such a surprise that made me feel appreciated both as a person and an employee.

3. Ask for opinions.

It can be tough for students to feel like an employee — even tougher for them to feel like a valued one. Oftentimes, being surrounded by older people can make you feel small rather than inspired. Being and feeling young can affect a student employee’s ability to input ideas or ask for feedback. They could be holding back important and innovative opportunities.

Go to them and ask for their opinion. Make sure you know their personality before calling them out in a meeting and putting them on the spot (which could make it worse). If they might be intimidated in a larger setting, drop by their desk and make sure to ask them about their opinions on the current project. Knowing that their input is important can benefit their work and possibly the whole company’s.

4. Reply to attempts to contact you.

College students are great with staying connected. Always being attached to their phones makes communicating fast and effective. This also means that when an employer takes two weeks to respond with “yes” to a simple email, communicating can become amazingly frustrating. Student employees will work faster and better when you let them know what to do promptly. Don’t be afraid to branch out to their personal phones either. Texting may seem unprofessional to you, but a college student will likely find it useful and simple.

5. Work around schedules.

Doing well in college isn’t limited to having a decent G.P.A anymore. In order to succeed you need the grades, the society presidency, the volunteer hours, the internship, and the job (not to mention all the tempting social events). Asking them to work a specific schedule before enrolling can work, but if they’re in need of a specific class that doesn’t work with that schedule, this can leave a student feeling trapped.

In reality, classwork should be the most important thing to students. When you make an effort to understand this and work with them to balance work and school, student employees will take notice. Make sure they know that their work life is important, but that it doesn’t mean the rest of their life must be neglected.

6. Recognize good work.

Positive feedback can take many forms and varies greatly from person to person, but all positive feedback is appreciated. A small compliment, a nice sentence at the end of an email, and a smile in the hallway can provide a happier environment for the student to work in. When your student may not receive much praise from teachers, classmates, or parents, it becomes imperative that they feel like the work they do for you is noticed. Don’t feel the need to do this excessively, but just every now and again to maintain their morale. This will bring new motivation into their work life and perhaps into other areas of their life as well.

As stated earlier, the college student is complex but regardless of major, job, or background, all student employees thrive on simple things like food, appreciation, and praise. Making an effort to engage these into your students’  lives will prove instrumental in their workplace happiness and yours.

By Madison White

Uloop Writer
Wichita State University
My list of places traveled is growing but will never exceed my list of places to travel next.

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