How to Build a Better Student Culture in Your Workplace

By Madison White on April 27, 2017

Every manager or owner is probably looking to improve their workplace culture, but how can they improve a workplace specifically for their student workers? Many student concerns fall under the category of general employee concerns, but they also bring some that are specific to their demographic.

Their values as young people working through an education may present a few different concerns to address. Obviously changing your student workplace overnight isn’t going to happen, but there are a few things to consider now to help you build a better student workplace culture in the future.

1. Look for the attitude that you want

Building the workplace culture that you want begins with the people that you hire. While there are always small changes that you can make to improve the current environment, it would be very difficult to try and get your employees to change their personalities completely.

Because of this, building a better student workplace culture means hiring students that would work well with each other and employees that might work well with students. If you build your company with the right blend of people, they’ll begin to uplift each other naturally and you won’t even have to do much work.

2. Look around your environment

Nobody likes being stuck in a boring building all day. Look around you. Does your office space look more like a prison than a workplace? Students may already make the association that dull, gray, and windowless areas are places of boring and monotonous work. They almost certainly already have memories of a boring lecture in a terrible room.

If anything, you want to encourage a place that inspires them rather than puts them to sleep. You might consider adding some decor or pictures, perhaps even changing the layout from individual cubicles to a more open workspace should it fit your company. These small changes can really make the difference when it comes to helping your student workers feel empowered and excited at work.

3. Ask their opinions

A common complaint from students and young people in general is that their voices are not always heard. Because older and more successful people tend to devalue the opinions of newer, less experienced workers, many student workers will begin to assume that their voice does not matter. When people feel that they do not matter to an overall production, they put less time and effort into their work.

If you want your student workers to really engage with their projects, make sure that you ask for their comments on the overall progress. If you end up using their ideas, make sure they know that they’ve contributed to the success of the entire team and aren’t just another cog in the machine.

4. Avoid too much routine

It also becomes difficult for students, or anyone, to continue their work if it becomes too monotonous. While teaching each individual to do only one small task may speed up production time, it also decreases their creativity and opportunity to grow. They can’t exercise any skills that go beyond that one task. This can lead to the stifling of an employee’s growth.

Instead, try and allow some variance in the different jobs you assign and allow people to experiment with their own ideas and knowledge. Everybody can bring something new to the table. Besides just workplace project rotations, try adding new events into the workplace life as well. You can always encourage and plan activities for your workers outside of office hours or schedule a luncheon.

5. Enable their interests

Likewise, student workers are probably cultivating a variety of interests during their studies. Because they’re likely young and still developing such interests, they haven’t completely specialized yet. Use this to your advantage! Students that are curious about many aspects of the company will absolutely appreciate the opportunity to move around and learn about everything involved. It will also help ease the divisions that might exist between departments that might not interact very much. A more inclusive and experimental culture is one that certainly benefits and attracts college-aged workers.

Making a great student-based work culture will bring many benefits to your company. Word travels fast amongst students so if you build a fun and productive place to work, you’ll attract even more great hires. Plus, hiring students is a wonderful way to create employees that have grown into and learned the ways of your workplace.

Instead of having to help them unlearn previous habits, you can encourage good habits from the start. You also have a chance to really develop a strong sense of loyalty within your young workers that could last throughout their entire careers. Building that student friendly environment will be the launching point for the rest of their working lives. Know that you can make a change.

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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