How to Set Expectations With New Student Employees

By Aidan Cannon on September 15, 2023

Every year, tens of thousands of young adults leave their homes to attend college in the hopes of preparing themselves for the rest of their lives. While classes, sports, and even parties are usually part of this experience, many enterprising students will also look for a job to gain professional experience and make some money on the side. These students provide a great opportunity to expand your workforce, but it is important to remember how young they are. They can be very uneducated on how to interact with a professional environment, and this may be their first job ever! Thus, it’s crucial that you talk to your new student employees and properly communicate your expectations for them when they are hired. Follow these steps to create a working environment conducive to mutual understanding.

Image from Pixabay

Set a flexible schedule

As an employer, you can buy yourself a lot of loyalty by being understanding of your employees’ situations. When dealing with students, this generally means acknowledging that they will be primarily dedicated to their studies, with their job always coming second. This also means that they won’t be available to work as much as you might want them to and that they may need to leave the job if it becomes too much of a burden in combination with their course load. If you are okay with these concessions, your college-age employees will come to work more motivated, as you are giving them a lot of freedom and helping shape your scheduling to benefit the both of you. You can also sit them down and have a more direct conversation about the expectations you have surrounding student employees; you understand that they have obligations to their education, and so they can only work certain hours, but the expectation then becomes that when they do come to work they are focused on nothing but the task at hand and being productive.

Provide supervised training

One of the best ways you can establish expectations with your college student employees is by providing supervised training. This training can be during work hours or after, but if they are going to be working with customers you may want to have it during so that they get that experience of interacting with people as they come in. Supervised training provides you with the opportunity to model every process that your employees will be asked to perform, helping them to perfectly understand how you like things to be done. You can then ask them to practice these processes in front of you, allowing you to instantly catch any mistakes they make and correct them so they’ll perform to your expectations when left alone. Training like this not only clues your employee into how they’ll be expected to do their job but also give you time to talk with your employee, explaining why your company does things the way they do.

Communicate with your employees

When you are working in a business, changes are inevitable. At some point, if only for a brief period, you may have to change the way in which tasks are completed. When a wrench is thrown into your plans like this, you need to communicate with your young employees. They are still getting used to the standard way of doing things, so if there’s a big change in workflow, they need to be told that the expectations are altered for the time being. It’s silly for someone up the corporate ladder to chastise a young employee for doing work they had previously been instructed to do, not realizing that they were supposed to be doing something else if someone in leadership didn’t tell them that a change was being made.

Be explicit about phone usage

A lot has been said about the younger generation and their attachment to their phones. Yes, much of their lives are run through their phones, but they should be focused on their work when they have someone paying for them to be there. When you bring on a young college kid, talk to them about what your expectations are for them as far as being on task is concerned. Educate them on your phone policy if you have one, and explain what will happen if they don’t follow it. Especially in jobs that require frequent interaction with customers, it’s important for employees to appear friendly and available at all times, which they can’t do with their heads in their phones. Making phone expectations clear from the jump will significantly reduce the chances of customers or responsibilities being ignored and increase productivity.

College students can be a lot to handle in the workplace. They’re new to the job world and don’t know all the ins and outs just yet, but if you stick with them, you can build loyalty and turn them into great young professionals. Make sure to lay out expectations with them and they will do great work for your company.

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