Have you hired teen employees?

Employers of youth workers have a chance to improve the youth disconnection rate by considering youth development at work

If you are the employer of teen workers, you have an important role in building the future workforce. Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Program have a few suggestions on how you can make the most of your role.

Focus on safety. There are laws protecting youth related to the hours they work and the tasks they do. Know these laws but also use the framework as a chance to educate all workers, including teens, on safe behaviors at work and work-life balance. This is a skill-set that benefits everyone at your workplace.

Provide a learning experience. The job opportunity you provide might be the first one that a youth has. This is a chance to help guide and shape positive working behaviors. Provide regular feedback focusing on positive growth and areas for improvement. Include specific benchmarks for change and increased responsibility so the young person knows the expectations. Know that this job opportunity could be the first time a young person is asked to handle multiple tasks independently and the support through the process can encourage positive skill development as opposed to negative. This does not mean allow poor work performance but a coaching approach will help with development.

Be a mentor. In particular, when working with youth workers, there is an opportunity to be a role model for a good work environment and supervisor. Youth may return to your organization or company for years once starting their position and take on advanced positions, strengthening a loyalty to your business and the community. You may also have the chance to serve as a reference or resource as the young person expands their educational or career aspirations. The best way to connect with youth as a mentor is ask questions of youth and listen to their answers. Find out what interests them, what they struggle with and what their dreams are for the future; then share stories of your journey to your career as appropriate.

Youth employers serve a great role in assisting with the disconnection rates amongst youth in the United States. Consider the opportunity of having youth employees as a chance to benefit not only your workplace but the future workplace, as well.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth career preparation, money management, and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2016 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Employment.”

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