The keys to part-time hiring success for SMBs – Part 1
As summer comes to an end, many Americans are forced to say goodbye to the warm weather, beach cookouts and ever-fleeting romances that can only be endured under the summer sun. However, for many small-to-medium-sized businesses, it also means saying goodbye to part-time employees who are heading back to school or who were hired as business ramped up during the busy summer months.
The hiring and managing of part-time talent (regardless of season) remains a challenging proposition for the majority of SMBs. Often, an SMB’s niche offering or the vertical market they play in will determine when business picks up, and when it slows down. And, to remain profitable, SMBs need to be selective with staff and use part-time talent sparingly as business needs dictate.
To help SMBs successfully navigate these transitions, we’ve enlisted the help of industry veteran and reseller & ISV business advisor at Vantiv, Jim Roddy. In this two-part Q&A series, Jim will discuss best practices for small-to-medium-sized businesses looking to employ part-time staff and how they can use data analytics, training and management techniques to set themselves up for success – both now and in the future.
Q: How does an SMB determine whether they need to hire – or retain – more staff?
First things first when it comes to staffing decisions – if you can measure it, you can manage it. The hiring of temporary labor needs to be based on whether the business need is real or not, especially as many SMBs can’t afford to waste money training, managing and compensating employees whose job is to simply sit around. Specifically as it pertains to measurement, a business “need” must be based on data and numbers (a point I can’t stress enough), and the hiring of part time workers is a decision that should never be based solely on gut feelings.
Q: Part-time workers often are employed for short periods of time. How can SMBs get new employees up-to-speed quickly?
The key lies in an effective and efficient training system – a process that starts well in advance of an employee’s first day on the job. SMBs need to have well-thought out and succinct written documents and principles on hand that employees can read prior to beginning their part-time tenure to help the communication of information that complements onboarding and training. If written correctly, these documents should be a helpful reference for part-time employees if and when they need to refresh their memories or are stuck on a specific task.
Also, due to the busy nature of business during “peak season” for an organization, owners and managers won’t have time to communicate everything verbally to a new hire. Of course, there will be certain times they will communicate face-to-face with new, part-time hires; however, written documents are a great way to shorten the onboarding process and get employees up-to-speed before they begin their first day on the job – all the more important when time is of the essence.
Q: So, you’ve built up a successful organization with a great reputation among current and prospective consumers. How do SMBs ensure that there is no gap in business quality or customer service when onboarding part-time talent?
I believe that successful management and the proper delegation of assignments (especially for part-time workers) can be summed up into six words: “I do. We do. You do.” Most obviously, “I do” is where a manager or senior employee takes on the task themselves; a time in which new employees watch and learn, often making sense of the preparation they should have done in advance of their onboarding — in the form of written documents.
The “We do” is where it gets tricky and, if done incorrectly, it can lead to a very unsuccessful “You do” phase, which defeats the purpose of bringing on part-time hires in the first place. During the “We do” phase, managers should spend time with the new hire doing the job until they feel they’re proficient and have mastered the basics of the task. If the “I do” and “We do” stages are done correctly, “You do” will be much easier on both the business and the employee.
At the highest level, finding the right balance between management, training and onboarding documentation is really the best way to position your SMB’s part-time workforce for immediate success. However, another way to limit the learning curve and alleviate gaps in customer service is by carefully selecting the types of work part-time employees undertake.
As we come to the end of part one, make sure you’re on the lookout for part 2 of this Q&A, where Jim dives deeper on compensation and compliance best practices for SMBs, and why the departure of a part-time hire doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your professional relationship.