Foreword Online

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Empower Student Employees with Meaningful Workplace Experience

Posted by Liz Schulte on 12/10/18 5:30 AM
Topics: student employees, college stores, student engagement

The average person will spend a third of their life working. With that much of our lives wrapped up in serving others, creating or selling, we need to see the purpose in what we do. Students employees aren’t different. Splitting their time between school, work, friends and sports, they want to see or understand the ways they make a difference.

Empower student employees with meaningful workplace experienceStudent employees can bring a lot to your college store. From a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm to a direct line into the minds of current students, these employees can help recharge your college store. However, this relationship is symbiotic.

Your store provides students with real life work experience that doesn’t have to be menial. By engaging your student employees and mentoring them, you provide vital real-life work experience that can be beneficial to them for the rest of their lives. Your store prepares these students for success in their future lives by teaching them the basics like arriving on time, asking for time off in advance and professional workplace behavior. More than that, you help students develop the qualities future employers look for like responsibility, setting and achieving goals, and independence.

3 ways to motivate student employees

  1. Give students a voice
    According to Barnes & Noble College’s latest Generation Z research, 68% of Gen Z students believe their voice has the power to effect change. Generation Z students have an opinion and want to share it with the world. Get students involved and give them a sense of ownership in the store’s success. Let your student workers be a built-in focus group for your store. Set regular times to meet with your students to get feedback about your marketing campaigns or listen to their ideas about how your store can better connect with the students on campus. Empower your student workers to think beyond what they do day-to-day and bring new ideas for how to improve your store.
  2. Take the time to mentor students
    While most students will not begin working in your college store with the thought that this could be their career, some may end up on that path. Taking the time to really train students in the complicated ins and outs of the campus store will not only make them better employees and give them more knowledge to help customers, but it will also give the work they do in the store a greater sense of purpose.
  3. Celebrate student employee successes
    Help your student employees set reasonable goals and then celebrate their successes. Retail can feel thankless. Work with students to develop specific, measurable goals, and praise their achievement when their goals are met. This kind of acknowledgement can boost enthusiasm and help remind student employees to go that extra step to help a customer.

What management techniques have worked best with your student employees? How do you engage your student workers or celebrate their successes? Let us know in the comments. We would love to share your store’s story.

Discover more about Gen Z's influence and impact on higher education. Download  the Barnes & Noble College Insights research today. Download Report

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