Tuesday 13 November, 2018

Career Corner: Managing summer employees

In our March article, I discussed summer employment and provided some tips for University students on how to secure employment for the summer period. As we approach the end of the semester and prepare for summer jobs to actually begin, I want to discuss things that companies should do to prepare for summer workers to ensure that the summer employment period is mutually rewarding.  

For HR Managers and Department Heads, summer employment can be seen as both an opportunity to get assistance with projects the organization is pursuing, but can also be a stressful period, as there are now additional employees and projects to manage within a restricted time frame…As a guide however, the following tips should help to make the summer employment period a little more manageable:

Recruit Carefully. As far as possible, HR Managers should seek to hire summer workers in the same way that they hire full time workers (i.e. hire persons with skills that will be useful to the organization). Often times, summer workers are hired although they are in programmes of study that have no real value to the organization- unfortunately this is of no benefit to the summer worker or the company, and as far as possible this should be avoided.

Prepare your Staff. Advise your full time employees’ before-hand that summer workers will join the organization- particularly those employees who will be required to supervise and/or work along with the summer workers. Summer workers joining the organization should not be a surprise for current employees.

Orientation. Although it is not required for HR Departments to provide extensive orientation sessions for summer employees- it is still important to provide basic orientation for your summer workers to introduce them to the workplace, and to cover key areas that will help them to be successful.

Identify projects. Often times summer workers join departments and are given mundane tasks, because the organization has not identified suitable projects for them to work on. This leads to frustration on the part of the summer worker and is a waste of valuable human resources as tasks that could be accomplished during the summer are left undone. It is important to identify projects that summer employees will work on before they join the organization and to identify full time employees who will work along with the summer worker in executing these tasks.

Company Wide Exposure. Where possible, allow your summer workers to be exposed to different areas of the organization instead of being restricted to one department.

Job Descriptions. Have a job description (or at the very least an outline of duties) for your summer workers. The job description should indicate the tasks/ projects that the summer workers will be engaged in while in your employ.  

Give Feedback. Maintain a record of tasks performed by your summer employees, and give them feedback on how well they have performed their task(s) - this will help them in their personal and professional development going forward.

Summer employment programmes can be challenging- but can also be particularly rewarding for students and organizations if managed properly. Good Luck with your 2018 Summer Employment Programme!

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Malaika T. Edwards is a Human Resources consultant and provides advisory services to individuals and business clients. She is also a PhD scholar at the Louisiana State University (LSU) where she specializes in Human Resources and Workforce Development. You can contact her at malaika.edwards@yahoo.com, or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/malaika-edwards