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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Be a Part-Timer Lover

Written By: Adrian Gostick | No Comments

Whether you manage two people or two hundred, every small business owner has a work culture — and it’s important to understand that the effectiveness of that culture will have a big impact on your performance. If your work culture is clear, positive, and fun, then your people will buy into your ideas, cause and, most importantly, will believe that what they do matters and that they can make a difference.

Admittedly, it’s easier to spread your idea of culture when you spend 40 or 50 hours a week with people. The challenge is in spreading your type of customer service and creativity with staff members that you see only a few shifts a week. How do you make part-timers feel like valued, contributing members of your team? 

Let me take you to the UK for a terrific example. The Fulham Football Club of the English Premier League has a thousand occasional workers who take tickets, manage crowd control, and sell drinks and snacks during the team’s home games — in fact, these part-timers outnumber full-time staff almost ten to one. Fulham calls these employees “those on the edges,” and Robert Ordever, people-development director, says, “They have far more influence over our success or failure than anything management can do in the head office. Those on the edges are our front face, our ambassadors, our brand, and our best source of feedback from our fans and customers.”

To build a connection, the club invests more time educating these part-timers than they do training their full-time staff. Leaders also ensure each occasional worker feels empowered to take action to do whatever is necessary to create an exceptional fan experience; and when they go above and beyond, they’re recognized.

The result, says Ordever, “has been a real improvement in the quality of service offered to our fans. We continue to get increased numbers of customer commendations and we have grown our attendance numbers in difficult and highly competitive times.”

Ask yourself: Have you fully trained your part-timers? Do you help those on the edges feel a connection to your business?

A distinguishing quality of great companies is the ability of management to help employees at all levels feel like valued, contributing partners in the business. When you look at this idea from an employee’s point of view, the attraction is understandable. But the benefits for businesses are very real too. After all, the worldwide workforce has hidden reserves of ingenuity and resolve that can be tapped. The more people feel as if they are an important part of something bigger than themselves, and the more they believe that there is a commensurate return for their hard work — that leads to a culture of high performance.

Here are a few ideas to better integrate part-timers into your culture:

Get ideas out of their pockets. Your part-time people have more energy and creativity to give. I would wager that you have employees now in your organization walking around with brilliant ideas in their pocket. Some will never share them because they don’t have the platform to launch those ideas on their own. Most, however, will never reveal them because they don’t feel like a partner in the organization. It’s your job to listen.

Root for each other. Let part-timers know how much you appreciate their great work by gathering the team together often to publicly thank individuals and present them with tangible awards (even if it’s as simple as a pair of movie tickets or a handwritten thank you note). Always tie your words of gratitude to a core value of the organization.

Clarify growth opportunities. A foundational idea in developing a partnership with your part-time people is taking an active and ongoing role in clarifying growth avenues and career opportunities. Some of your part-timers may want to move up and become your next vice president; some may just want a steady paycheck with people they like. Whatever they want to do, it’s your job to understand what their ambitions are and help support them to get there. It will pay back tenfold.

The bottom line is this: Getting your full- and part-time employees “All In” can give your company a startling boost — in fact, the high-performance cultures we studied were three times more profitable than their peers.

So, what do you think? Do you train your part-timers as much as you do your full-time staff? Do you train them more? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Article written by Adrian Gostick
Adrian Gostick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Carrot Principle. His newest book is All In: How the best managers create a culture of belief and drive big results. Visit thecultureworks.com to learn more.