6 Tips to Improve College Student Employee Retention
There are many good reasons to hire college students to work at your company while they’re still in school. One of the biggest reasons being that it gives your business the opportunity to train and foster future talent within your company before your competitors can lure them away.
But business owners working with college students need to remember that these employees are spinning a lot of plates at once. They’ve got to balance their job with school, the gym, family, a boyfriend or girlfriend, and more.
Pushing college student employees too hard without being attentive to the fact that they’re also trying to maintain good grades and a stable personal life can lead to employee burnout. Burnout means turnover, and turnover costs you money.
Helping your college student employees maintain school and work life balance will improve your retention rates, so you can continue to reap the benefits of hiring them in the first place!
Here are 8 tips to helping student employees balance college and their job.
When hiring a college student employee, sit down and discuss their current schedule, keeping in mind that school is their number one priority.
If you help them succeed in school, you’ll be creating a bond of trust and building loyalty towards your company.
Create a regular, reliable work schedule that suits their needs. Once you’ve agreed on a schedule, put it down in an accessible and organized calendar so the student employee can always check in to see when they’re supposed to be at work.
As part of your initial discussions with a new hire, you should ask them about their academic goals:
A student with highly ambitious academic goals can be a great addition to your workforce, but they might need lighter demands from you than a student who isn’t overly stressed by their studies.
Set your new student employee up for success by creating a schedule and work environment that won’t compromise their academic pursuits.
A new college student employee may not have a lot of experience balancing work and school. It’s your responsibility to help them understand the potential pitfalls and to give them support resources in advance.
Host an orientation for new student employees where you discuss the need to create a reasonable schedule and how to stay organized (maybe even hook them up with some apps or calendar software to help out).
You should also talk to them about the importance of the following:
Finally, make sure they know that they can always ask for help. Encourage them to come to you if they’re struggling to do it all, and to talk to their teachers if they need additional assistance with their studies.
Even if you and your college student employee think they can handle 20 hours a week in the office, it’s best to start slow so they can transition into their new school/work lifestyle.
Maybe start with one day a week for their first month. If this goes well without any red flags, go up to 10-12 hours, and so on.
As much as possible, be open to giving your student employees flexibility to work when and where makes sense for them. If you have work that can be done offsite, allow students to do this from home or campus.
If your business requires workers to be physically present, then strive to create as much scheduling flexibility as possible.
For example, maybe they can come in late at night or early in the morning, or on weekends outside of your typical business hours. Stay open-minded and get creative if need be!
Remember, by giving trust to your student employees, you show them respect. They’ll give you the same in return.
More than likely, your college student employees will be working alongside non-student employees who don’t have to worry about balancing life and school.
These coworkers may harbor some resentment toward student employees who enjoy a more flexible schedule, can come in later, leave earlier, or do work from home.
Communicate with your non-student employees about your company’s focus on helping student employees succeed academically, and help them understand how they can be open and supportive of student workers’ needs.
If a college student employee is studying graphic design, give them the opportunity to design your new signs or catalog. If they’re in media production, assign them to make a new promotional video for your company.
Finance majors can work in your accounting department, while business majors can help you figure out new ways to grow your company.
Even if these projects are not the bulk of a college student employee’s regular work responsibilities, it’s important to come up with this type of work to show you value their knowledge and to keep them committed to staying with your company.
Just like with any employee, you should schedule regular meetings to check in with how they’re doing, if and with what they’re struggling, etc.
A student employee might need more communication than a non-student one, so be sure to check in regularly with how they’re feeling.
If a college student employee is performing poorly at school, work, or both, then it’s time to look at how you can change their workload to help them succeed at both.
One of the best ways is to go where college students go when they’re looking for a job. Read our guide on where college students look for job opportunities »