Best Practices for Managing High School and College Students in Retail

Retail businesses live and die on having adequate staff available to meet customer demands. High school and college students often make up a significant portion of the workforce in retail settings. While these younger employees can bring great assets, they also require effective management approaches to ensure success.

In this article, we’ll provide key strategies for managing your student retail staff in an optimal way. Use these tips to motivate your team, comply with regulations, and leverage automation to simplify hiring.

Play to Their Strengths

The first step is recognizing the unique strengths student employees can bring to your retail team. Younger staff that grew up as digital natives can be invaluable in roles using newer technology. Have tech-savvy students conduct training on devices or software for employees who need more guidance. 

Students are also often highly creative. Engage them in marketing initiatives like your social media channels and merchandise displays. Ask for their input on campaigns that might resonate with a younger demographic. And don’t underestimate their agility and energy on the sales floor. Have students engage with customers in friendly interactions and extend excellent customer service. 

Flexibility is Key

Retail students will inevitably need more flexibility in their schedules week to week. Sit down with each student upon hiring to understand their academic commitments. 

Block out times on the schedule when they have classes, exams, extracurriculars, and other non-negotiables. Then, remain as adaptable as possible with their availability, allowing shift trades and schedule pickups. 

Communicate schedule needs promptly on both sides so you can adapt. Make it clear you aim to be as accommodating as realistically possible.

Train for Success

Just because many students are only working part-time doesn’t mean they don’t require training. Create a formal onboarding process that sets your retail students up for success.

Educate them thoroughly on company policies, procedures, and expectations. Make sure they know the proper protocols for customer interactions, complaints, returns, and escalated issues.

Show them how to safely operate equipment or technology they will use in their role. Have them shadow sales floor teammates to learn in real-time from employees already excelling. 

Motivate and Reward

Since your student employees are often balancing many priorities, it’s important to keep them motivated and engaged. Make sure you are communicating praise and recognition for jobs done well.

Offer words of affirmation when you witness wins, like calming an angry customer or making an exemplary sale. Provide feedback that will help build their skills and confidence.

You can also motivate through rewards like employee discounts, meal vouchers, gas cards, or movie tickets. Even small incentives make students feel valued and keep them driven to perform.

Legal Compliance

There are strict labor regulations you must adhere to with student employees under 18. Be well-versed in rules on legal working hours and prohibited high-risk equipment.

Follow all safety guidelines and get parental consent prior to hire. You must also prove eligibility to work by obtaining proof of age and valid work permits.

Failing to comply with labor laws puts your business at serious risk. Stay up-to-date on requirements and document diligently.

Streamlining Hiring with Chattr 

Chattr provides powerful recruiting automation technology that enables you to streamline your retail hiring. With Chattr, you can post job ads across multiple platforms from one centralized dashboard to attract top student talent. 

Automated scheduling makes coordinating interviews simple by allowing candidates to select times convenient for them. Custom applicant screening questions can assess availability, skills, and experience.

Chattr’s automated reminders keep candidates informed via their preferred communication channels. You’ll reduce no-shows and stay organized.

With document collection and e-signing, Chattr gathers, validates, and stores tax forms, parental consent and ID verification documents needed to hire students, all online.

Chattr takes the guesswork out of student hiring. Advanced analytics provide data-driven insights so you can optimize your recruiting process over time. Sign up now for a personalized demo.

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