18 Genius Ways to Attract New Part-Time Employees

Most job recruitment focuses on finding and keeping full-time employees, but the part-time workforce is increasing each year. How do you find that perfect part-time employee when they have so many options to choose from? What will make your business stand out?

Here are some ways you can up your recruitment game and find better part-time employees for your business:

1. Advertise where part-time employees are, for what they want

Consider the shifts you have to fill, and the hours you need covered. Instead of creating job postings based on a generic “part-time help wanted”, consider advertising for the type of hours and shifts. That’s not unusual for night shift work, but what about:

  1. After school shifts (high school students)
  2. During school shifts (parents with kids in school)
  3. Early morning or late afternoon shifts (college students)
  4. Weekend shifts (people with full-time M-F jobs who want extra income)
  5. On-call shifts (retired people, at-home empty nesters)
  6. Evening shifts (high school and college students)

This list is just a basic approach, but once you identify the different shift types, and related hours, you can advertise for that position in places the likely worker might be found. That might be on college campuses, at the senior center, a local parent’s newsletter, etc.

In other words, you should be visible in the places your future part-time employees spend their time.

2. Look beyond unemployed candidates

Many of your part-time job applicants will be currently unemployed, and you’ll definitely be hiring some of them. But don’t forget that there may be people who are employed who are excellent candidates.

You might attract workers from a competitor. You might have full-time employees who are retiring that would be interested in working part-time (which is a great way to not lose all of their expertise!). Just remember that great future part-time workers are also working right now.

3. Offer benefits

Most part-time employees don’t get much for benefits, but that doesn’t stop some employers from providing some type of benefits to part-time employees.

Starbucks, for example, has a variety of perks and benefits that kicks in after a part-time employee has worked a set amount of time. Their benefits include a fairly impressive health package as well as help with college tuition, counseling, and so on.

While you can’t offer the same benefits to part-time employees as you do your full-time employees (and maybe you can’t compete with Starbucks or other large corporations), consider what benefits you could offer. What is the demographic of most of your part-time workers? What would they value? Employee discounts (which I’ll talk about next) are the most common, but perhaps you could pay for a gym membership, or have a learning allowance, or offer basic dental or vision insurance.

4. Be generous with your employee discounts

For many part-time workers, the employee discount is a main motivator. They work in the stores that they like (or need) to shop at.

Be generous–seriously generous–with your employee discounts. In a way, a top-notch discount almost feels like a second paycheck if an employee already spends much of their money in your store. It’s hard to let go of that great employee discount (which helps squash employee turnover), and some employees may come to rely on it in their own budgets.

Think outside the box on the idea of “employee discount”, particularly in service industries. For example, maybe a parent would appreciate some part-time work in the evening or on weekends at a daycare to help offset the cost of their own fees. Or, perhaps a nearby restaurant would be willing to offer your employees a discount for their lunch break if you offered their employees a similar incentive.

5. Be aware of local layoffs

If a company in your area has had to layoff workers, consider working with them and offering those former employees part-time work to help them in the short term. They might not all stay, but you may find some great future full-time workers. At the very least, you get the positive word out that you wanted to provide work for those who had lost their jobs.

6. Work around class schedules. Really.

70-80% of college students work while in college, and about 17% of high school students have jobs, too. Most hourly part-time workers have traditionally been between the age of 16 to mid 20’s (though this is starting to change).

Lots of jobs promise to have flexible schedules, but it’s a real bummer for students who get a part time job and then find themselves having to haggle and fight to fit their work schedule around their class load.

Not only do you need to find a work schedule that fits around students’ class schedules, but you need to be sure you don’t change the nature of their work from what they originally were hired to do. Some part-time workers, such as students, want work that isn’t emotionally taxing or draining. They don’t want their job to detract from their schooling, or to wear them down and make them so tired their grades are affected.

For example, if a part-time worker, who is also a student, agreed to 15 hours a week working the cash register, you shouldn’t shift them to a job with more responsibilities without asking. Working around a class schedule means considering shifts, but also expectations and emotional drain.

7. Promote flexibility to specific demographics

It’s not just students that are looking for flexible hours in part-time work. Stay-at-home parents who just need a bit of extra income, freelancers who want to supplement their income, retirees who are bored and just want to get out of the house–there are people (as I mentioned in the first point) who might want a low-hour or off-hour part-time job that you can appeal to.

The bonus? You likely have hours that are difficult to fill, particularly if you have a student workforce. Finding people who have different schedules or needs is a good way to fill those gaps.

Let people know they can have their ideal personal life and pick up a little extra income on the side doing part-time work by treating their life schedules the same way you consider student’s class schedules.

8. Work with local realtors

Realtors know who is moving to the area. Find a local realtor who would include a pamphlet or some swag in their new home-buyer packet that would introduce your business to people new in the community. Throw in some coupons to encourage a visit to your business, and information on the part-time opportunities you always have available.

9. Reward longevity to make staying appealing

It is often easier for a part-time worker to walk away from a job than a full-time worker. They’re not as entrenched, they have fewer benefits, there are more jobs to choose from, and they are often not as plugged into the culture since they aren’t on the job as much. Losing an hourly employee costs you about 30 – 150% of their annual earnings.

You can attract new employees with a method that will also help keep them on the job simply by rewarding loyalty. But how do you reward loyalty?

You incentivize sticking around. You give bonuses for those who hit employment duration benchmarks. You make it clear that not quitting rewards employees in a cumulative way.

For new hires, those rewards are particularly appealing. They aren’t based on productivity (which is a hard incentive to hit when you’re only on the job part of the time), but rather they are based on simply not quitting. Just by turning up reliably for work, they can earn a bonus.

10. Embrace security so part-time employees don’t have to worry

On the flip side of the problem of workers leaving part-time jobs is that too many part-time employees feel insecure. When jobs get cut, it’s often part-timers who feel the brunt of it. Or, in some cases, they watch their hours reduced to a point where they can’t make a go of things.

You can provide a sense of security and reassure your part-time employees by being clear about what they can expect and what you can guarantee.

For example, you can promise them no fewer than 20 hours a week, that their hours won’t be reduced for the first year, or that their position is guaranteed for six months. Or you can assure employees that you won’t dole out hours (or retract them) as a reward or punishment for productivity or performance.

Taking a job based on clear guarantees reduces worry and fear, because part-time employees know what to expect. It should go without saying that if you make a promise, you keep it, and if you aren’t sure you can keep up your end of the deal, it’s better to say nothing.

11. Work with local schools

Do your local schools teach classes in areas that apply to your business?

Work with that foods teacher, that industrial arts instructor, that school newspaper advisor, and see if any of those students are looking for part-time work in an area of study that they enjoy. Take part in job fairs. Donate supplies, provide training, or sponsor events (if allowed by school) related to your industry.

12. Be upfront about the possibility of eventual full-time

Not all part-time workers are looking for eventual full-time work, but some are.

Let’s face it: it’s not unusual for employers to hire part-time as a way to test out a new position, to verify if they actually benefit from the extra help, or to see if the employee is a good full-time candidate.

The fact is, the numbers of part-time workers in the U.S. who want to transition to full-time work sits at about 6 million. You can bet you have some workers who are eager for more hours and who hope for full-time

If full-time is a possibility, make it known. If it isn’t, don’t lead on part-time employees by hinting it might be just to keep them from going somewhere else. You want employees that want to be there, not ones that are tricked or coerced into staying because they think something more permanent is on the horizon.

13. Promote your built-in benefits

There are aspects to your business that could be considered a benefit (or a “pro” in a list of pros and cons) that you might be forgetting to tell your potential hires.

For example, is your business located in easy walking distance from a college? Is it on a public bus line? Are you located near a popular eating and shopping area? These things would matter to employees who don’t have cars, or want to be near where their friends hang out. They’re benefits.

What is it about your business that you can sell as a positive?

14. Have a policy of giving a head’s up

One of the more stressful aspects of part-time work is not knowing what your schedule will be.

Some cities are passing laws that require employers to post schedules up to three weeks in advance, which can be pretty tough for employers. This is a response to the idea of “on call” workers, or even part-time workers whose schedules are changed at the last minute, making it difficult to have a personal life. In these cases, even though the hours are low, life is centered around the job and trying to anticipate when the next shift will be.

If no law requires you to post work schedules in advance, having a policy stating that you will do so is a huge plus for part-time workers.

For example, if your workweek starts on Sunday, let workers know you’ll post the upcoming schedule no later than Wednesday, or even further in advance if possible. Require workers to let you know of their own schedules and requests equally in advance, while allowing for last-minute flexibility by identifying employees who are always interested in more hours and are often happy to pick up an extra shift.

Using an app like When I Work, or another method (e.g. cloud-based Google Spreadsheet) that is accessible to all employees no matter where they are helps avoid this last-minute scheduling panic.

And once you have this policy, make it a selling point when you’re hiring. You’ll be surprised at how much part-time employees appreciate knowing their schedule in reasonable advance.

15. Hold a fun job fair

If you’re in need of a number of part-time hires, hold a job fair in your business (or your parking lot) and really make it a fun fair.

Your goal is to attract potential hires by helping them understand how they can benefit by working for you, why they’ll love the culture and relationships they’ll build, and any growth potential the job might have. Have applications, yes, but also introduce your business (what you do, your typical customer, what they get to do) in creative ways. Use games and prizes and reward those who fill out applications or sign on to work.

16. Make applying easy

If you only take phone calls or applications during standard daytime business hours (particularly if you have a business that is open into the night), you’re not going to attract employees. Those may be the hiring manager’s hours, but that’s not the part-time employee’s hours.

You have to make it easy to apply from anywhere and at any time. Online, in-store, via a kiosk, through the mail–whatever it takes, make it easy for people to apply according to their convenience.

List your jobs online, and on your website. Make applications easy to download or fill out online. Answer the most likely questions right there on the site, and avoid being vague. Outline the basics of your benefits and policies as covered above. Your part-time employees are searching quickly, so make the process easy.

17. Always be looking

Part-time work has such a flexibility to it, in regards to hours and shifts, that you should always be looking for workers whether you have an obvious need or not.

Keep that “apply online” web page always live on your site, and get back to promising applicants immediately. Find out if they’d be interested in whatever hours you could offer. Gauge their interest and let them know you’d like to contact them if an opening was available if they needed more hours than you can currently promise.

Part-time employee churn is legendary; you’re almost always in a hiring process.

18. Offer a signing and referral bonus

Advertise a signing and referral bonus, particularly if the job market in your area has made it tough to attract part-time employees. If you’re wary about new hires abusing the bonus, make it time dependant (i.e. they have to work X days before they get their bonus). Nothing attracts attention like a job posting with a nice signing bonus.

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