Adolescent boy at cash register in grocery store
Qualified teen workers can have a great work ethic, expand your capacity to do business, support growth and more. — Getty Images/ kali9

For businesses looking to fill their skill gaps in a tight labor market, qualified teenage workers may be the perfect solution; however, hiring teen workers doesn’t come without challenges or special considerations. Here's what businesses should know about hiring, recruiting and working with teens.

Why hire teenage workers for your small business?

Driven, hardworking teenagers can be a great asset to any business, especially during the busy summer and holiday seasons, for a few reasons:

  • They're eager for work. During the pandemic summer of 2020, teenage summer employment was at its lowest since the Great Recession in 2008. A year later, teen workers are itching to get back into the workforce in 2021 and beyond to grow skills, meet new people and make money.
  • It's an efficient way to expand your workforce in peak times. Employment-seeking teens often take part-time jobs to fit with their school and extracurricular schedules. Since they’re typically not seeking benefits, hiring teenage workers in part-time, limited-skill positions can answer your workforce needs efficiently and affordably.
  • You might be eligible for a tax credit. Depending on the state in which you operate or manage a business, you may be eligible for a tax credit when hiring employees under the age of 18. For instance, New Jersey’s Senate Labor Committee will “provide businesses that hire people under the age of 18 with a tax credit to offset the cost of the state’s higher minimum wage,” and New York has expanded eligibility for its tax credit for businesses hiring employees between ages 16 and 24.
  • You're shaping the next generation of working professionals. No matter the industry, teenage workers can develop soft skills such as responsibility, organization, time management and creative problem solving that will serve them well throughout high school, continuing education and the workforce.

[Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Your Seasonal Business Taxes]

Hiring teen workers not only helps a business get through peak times and find stand-out young employees to promote, but it also acts as a vital learning experience for teenagers.

Tips for recruiting, hiring and managing teen workers

Post your jobs where teens are ‘hanging out’ online

Meeting teens where they congregate online can help companies and organizations advertise part-time jobs perfect for teen workers.

“We’ve found that [by] moving to an app-based program called Job Get, we get more hits from teens,” said Andy Diamond, president of Angry Crab Shack. “Utilizing a platform that they are more familiar with has been helpful.”

Communicate transparently and showcase your values

Gen Z is infamous for demanding authenticity and social responsibility from brands, so transparent communication and those same values are important to teen workers when seeking employment.

“We’re seeing better traction with a more creative approach to hiring beyond simply relying on your typical job ad,” said Chris McCuiston, CEO and co-founder of Goldfish Swim School. “By focusing on the impact and purpose of the job opportunity, you’re able to attract talent from individuals who want to pursue work that truly makes a difference — in our case, saving lives.”

Be patient during the interview and onboarding process

Diamond noted that the interviews teen candidates do with you might be for their first job, so you’ll want to get a sense of their skills, strengths and personality traits that match with your business. Once hired, it’s important to be clear about expectations, establish rules and cultivate open lines of communication to work well with teens.

“[Teens] typically need a little more guidance when it comes to professionalism and work environments, so we set clear expectations in the job interview process regarding punctuality, call-off procedures, customer service basics and more,” said Diamond.

Build relationships for your long-term seasonal employment needs

Hiring teen workers not only helps a business get through peak times and find stand-out young employees to promote, but it also acts as a vital learning experience for teenagers. John Vanore, multi-unit franchise owner with Rita’s Italian Ice, recommended considering hiring younger teens who can stick with you throughout their high school years.

“High school years are formative and crucial to development, so it’s important [for the company] to be respectful of prior commitments such as prom, vacation or summer school,” Vanore said. “This also allows you to ... develop a strong working relationship so that [the teenage employees] continue to come back year after year, and maybe [even] when they’re home from college.”

[Read more: How This Teen Entrepreneur Learned to Roll With Changes and Persevere Through Challenges]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 29, 2021