How to get full-time loyalty from your part-time employees.
Almost a quarter of all B.C. service sector employees work part-time, but attracting and retaining this valuable demographic can be a challenge. We asked the experts for advice: Denise Buchanan, vice-president of human resources at White Spot Ltd.; Gary Faryon, operations manager at Mountain Equipment Co-op; and Murat Imren, president of Plenty Stores Inc.
The service industry couldn’t function without flexible part-time workers, but if that flexibility isn’t reciprocated, employees will move on to something that can accommodate their own hectic schedules. That’s why Buchanan stresses the importance of “getting to know them and what makes them tick, and making flexible arrangements for them as far as you possibly can.” It takes extra time and energy, but Faryon knows the commitment is mutually beneficial because, “it’s flexibility for our staff who need that type of flexibility within their work, and it’s flexibility for our business because our business isn’t constant.”
Trade cents for sense
Retaining employees keeps a wealth of knowledge and experience that benefits you and your clients. While laying off part-timers in the slow season might make solid financial sense, Faryon would rather not demoralize his troops, but rather sees an opportunity to invest in internal development. He compares it to running a ship: “That’s the time that we get the sailors to buff up the decks, paint, clean and organize for the next journey.”
Keep the conversation going
It’s easy for part-timers to disengage from the company’s culture, but Buchanan notes that “ultimately our guests don’t differentiate between whether they’re being served by a full-time or part-time employee.” So she recommends using pre-shift meetings, weekly newsletters, company-wide surveys and onsite managers to keep everyone involved. Imren agrees, adding that “the most important issue is the corporate culture. Even if they just come in for a few shifts a week, make them feel like they’re a part of the family.” At MEC almost all employees are actively involved in the company intranet, which serves as a hub of work-related updates as well as a social-media centre to bring the staff together.
Working fewer shifts also gives part-time employees less time to prove themselves on the job, so look for ways to make recognition and personal development accessible to everyone. At Plenty, Imren’s Vancouver-based chain of clothing stores, incentives focus on hourly sales, rather than total sales, so part-time sales associates are rewarded on par with their full-time colleagues. Our experts agree that part-time employees should be offered the same benefits and opportunities as full-time employees wherever possible, including being considered for advancement to full-time or management roles where circumstances permit. This keeps them connected to the rest of the team and gives them options for their own growth within the company.