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Tips for managing part-time employees

Part-time employees can play a valuable role in a small business, especially while a business is waiting for general economic recovery. Part-timers can help you deal with variations in workload without having to hire a full-time employee. And often, when there are many job applicants for any opening, you can find a person with above-average skills for the position.

But part-timers can turn into a liability if not managed well. You could end up with poorly motivated workers, unsure of their duties, unfamiliar with the company, and unsure who they report to. Here are a few tips to prevent this situation.

* Think before you hire. Know why you’re hiring. Decide exactly what you want the person to do, what hours you want the person to work, and who he or she will report to. The position may have well-defined duties, or it may involve filling in wherever needed. Decide on the pay level and what benefits you’ll offer.

* Communicate clearly with the part-timer. Explain the person’s duties, and who his or her superior is. Be very clear on hours and benefits. The more flexibility you can offer, the easier it will be to recruit somebody and the happier the new worker is likely to be. Make sure you explain what job performance you expect.

* Communicate clearly with your full-time staff. Explain why you’re hiring a part-time person. Make it clear what that person will and won’t be expected to do. Designate who will manage and assign work to the part-timer. Otherwise you might find everyone trying to unload work on the new employee.

* Make the part-timer feel like part of the company. Provide introductory training on specific duties and on the company’s business and policies. Assign a mentor or “buddy,” ├é┬ásomeone the new person can turn to with everyday questions. Wherever possible, include part-timers in staff meetings and company functions.

* Monitor part-timers’ progress. Provide feedback on their performance and recognition if they’re doing a good job. Consider including them in any bonus or incentive schemes. And monitor the reactions of your full-time employees. Sometimes there can be resentment of a part-timer’s shorter hours, especially if your other employees are overloaded and having to work overtime.

With attention to these points, you can make hiring a part-time employee a winning decision for your company.

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