How to Work Effectively with School Leavers

As a hospitality business owner you’re probably already stretched to breaking point and that pressure will only increase if you’re understaffed or have unqualified crew.

It’s a lot to shoulder but you can lighten the load and do something positive for the future of your business if you invest in hiring school leavers. There are many positives to taking on youngsters, year 10 and 11 school leavers, or Generation Z, with employee cost savings just one of them.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised how positive, enthusiastic, eager to learn and grateful school leavers can be if you give them a chance. You may have some concerns about hiring school leavers; let’s take a look at what they might be.

Are they reliable?

Chances are you will be giving them their first job so there may be times they turn up late but be kind, firm and give constructive feedback on how to improve and avoid tardiness. They will thank you in the future for the work ethic you instilled in them.

In lieu of a resume and previous employer references there are other ways you can ascertain the reliability of any potential school leaver hire. Contact their teachers, ask to see their academic transcript, and if they show self-management and initiative ability then they will most certainly be a reliable asset to your hospitality business. Look at their attendance record, time-keeping and adherence to dress code. This attitude will translate directly into the workforce, but remember to not leave them to fend for themselves.

Teach them from your own experiences about learning to self-manage. Explain clearly what needs to be done and what the desired outcome is, but don’t treat them like a stereotype.

What about mistakes they make?

Everyone makes mistakes when they first enter the workforce; it’s a part of learning the ropes. If you’re concerned about school leavers making costly mistakes the solution is to delegate them age-appropriate responsibilities and ask experienced staff to pick up the slack until everyone settles in.

Will they be productive or sit on their smartphones all day?

Young workers will try to impress, and this will no doubt help with productivity. They have enthusiasm to succeed, and chances are they will be flexible when it comes to working hours. If your work environment doesn’t have any rules about putting devices away, simply lead by example and implement limitations.

Use school leavers’ aptitude for modern technologies to your advantage! Encourage on-the-job use of tech platforms that allow for greater productivity and project management. You might even find new ways to market your hospitality business through their innovative ideas!

What if they get bored and just walk out?

School leavers are accustomed to hearing about global and economic uncertainty, youth unemployment, and concerns of housing affordability. An NAB survey released last year (Rethinking Success, December 2016) found those aged 16-to-21 were people-focused, hardworking, and identified continuous learning on the job as a key priority. While they did not have much practical knowledge about employment and lacked specific skills, they were concerned about not having the abilities needed for future jobs.

One of the greatest things about the hospitality industry are the opportunities to grow which are attractive incentives to school leavers that they will return tenfold with loyalty.
Don’t be afraid to look at the opportunity of hiring and training young workers. They are willing to grow and progress quickly, provide a fierce loyalty when recognised for their achievements and encouraged to learn, and are able to innovate your hospitality business to match the changing times.