The Art of Retaining Part-Time Employees
By Sandy Arseneault, CHRP
According to Statistics Canada, “in 2012, 11.6 per cent of working-age Canadians worked part-time, whereas 50.2 per cent worked fulltime”. Of those part-time workers, 27.2 per cent preferred to work full-time (making them involuntary part-time workers)1. Given these Statistics, Canadian businesses must use highly effective retention strategies to appeal to the needs and expectations of part-time applicants in order to retain them as long as possible.
Similarly, in British Columbia, approximately half a million working-age employees worked part-time in 2013 (15+ years old). Among them, 21.5 per cent care for children, their own personal illness or tend to other family responsibilities; 22.5 per cent go to school; and 28.5 per cent prefer to work part-time hours2. Notably, this means that roughly 27.5 per cent of the part-time labour force in B.C (more than 135,000 workers) would consider full-time employment if offered.
At Harrison Galleries and The Buzz Café, co-owner Jennifer Harrison is leveraging its part-time employment opportunities to keep permanent part-timers happy. How are they doing it?
The art is in the coffee! In other words, when attracting and retaining part-time employees their primary focus is to appeal to the employee’s needs while fulfilling the needs of their business.
Less than two years ago, Harrison Galleries and The Buzz Café needed to hire an extra set of hands. But, like most growing businesses, they could not yet support a forth full-time employee. While understanding that challenges come with retaining part-time staff, co-owner Jennifer Harrison developed a strategic approach to employee retention that has worked for her: offering all employees, regardless of FTE (full-time equivalent) status, the same employment terms:
- Saturday or Sunday shift off each week, guaranteed
- Steady hours (eg. a minimum number of hours per week)
- Equal wages (eg. full-time and part-time staff earn the same rate)
- Consistent shifts (eg. no shift alterations by management/business owners)
- Flexibility (eg. employees can swap scheduled shifts as long as business needs are met)
- Open communication (eg. employees leave praise, ideas and concerns in an open log book)
- Understanding work-life balance (eg. Owners and other employees may cover shifts)
- A family-like company culture (eg. appreciation for one another/social atmosphere)
In my experience, part-time employees don’t usually stay with an organization for more than six months. However, Harrison found great success in retaining her first part-time barista for a year and a half. In anticipation of the part-time barista moving on, Harrison was well prepared to recruit the next part-time barista. Today, Harrison looks forward to seeing longevity with this new hire.
Will you take a sip out of this small business’ coffee cup?
Known for her unique background in accounting, business and HR, Sandy Arseneault is an entrepreneur, writer and Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) who is passionate about people. Today, Sandy owns and operates Acadie Consulting Ltd., a consulting firm focused on helping local organizations implement effective business, financial and human resources strategies. She also works with the Canadian Cancer Society as a Coordinator, Volunteer Engagement for Camp Goodtimes – a safety-focused, medically supervised, fun and recreational summer camp for children with cancer and their families.