It's A Match

Perks Work

Give your part-timers a good reason to give you their best.

Part-time employees are an essential segment of the work force for many businesses, but it's not always easy to keep them motivated. They often do low-level work, may not have much opportunity for advancement and are frequently ignored by full-timers. But regardless of how many hours someone works each week, as an employer, you're entitled to get the maximum benefit from the time people spend on the job.

So how can you keep part-timers enthused and productive? Linda C. Haneborg, vice president of marketing and public relations for Express Personnel Services in Oklahoma City, offers these tips:

  • Introduce new part-timers to your full-time staff. "It's important to build a foundation for part-time employees just as you do for full-timers," says Haneborg. "Give them a tour of your facility, and explain what your company does, what its goals are and what your vision is."
  • Provide benefits. Make your part-time employees eligible for the same benefits full-timers receive, such as insurance, vacation and tuition reimbursement. Most companies prorate their benefits based on hours worked--usually a minimum of 20--so what part-timers receive is comparable to what is given to full-timers.
  • Train them. Everyone needs to be adequately trained to do their job, no matter how many hours they work. Provide ongoing training to enhance and expand their skills beyond basic job knowledge, and to groom part-timers for eventual full-time positions.
  • Create an inclusive environment. "You need to create an atmosphere that makes part-timers feel they're as worthwhile and productive as full-time employees are," says Haneborg. If you give gifts at holidays or recognize birthdays for full-timers, do so for part-timers as well. Invite part-timers to participate in company social events, sports teams and incentive programs. Encourage them to participate in safety and quality programs.
  • Develop career paths. Although many part-timers choose to work on a temporary basis because it suits their needs, a signifcant number of them are looking for advancement opportunities. Take the time to find out what their skills and goals are, and, if possible, develop a plan for growth within your company that will let them use their skills and meet their goals. Along these lines, you can also help them avoid burnout and reduce your turnover if you give part-timers a variety of tasks and not limit them to "grunt" work.

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This article was originally published in the May 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: It's A Match.

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