This is a guest blog post written by RedShelf's intern for the summer, Lauren.
Student employees are often integral to store success. They are on the front line of customer interactions, whether those customers are students, parents, alumni, or community members. They serve as ambassadors for the store in their peer circles both on and off campus and have intuitive knowledge of your market better than most anyone else. While working at the bookstore might not be on a student's career path, it is important to have students buy into the culture and mission of your bookstore in order for it to succeed. When students are happy at work, they make for more productive and motivated employees to serve on your staff.
Here are five easy ideas to incorporate into your store for students (and we are sure your adult staff would enjoy them, too!):
1. Create an Employee Wall or Board
You can create a custom board be as simple or elaborate as you please. Enlist the help of some of your creative students to get them involved in the activity, as well. Post a photo of each employee with some basic information like hometown, year in school, major and a fun fact about them. It is an awesome way for everyone to get to know faces and learn a little bit about each other. This board can help build a team-like atmosphere and help new employees acclimate to the store. This bulletin board can be hung in the back room or an area where students clock into their shifts. Use this board to also post announcements and information about promotions or upcoming events.
2. Celebrate with food!
It is no secret that college students love food. Each month or semester, celebrate birthdays or holidays with a potluck for employees. Create a sheet for students and staff to sign up to bring a dish to share. As students come and leave for their shifts throughout the day, they can grab a quick bite to eat. Monthly birthday celebrations are a fun way to recognize individual employees and holiday celebrations can include decorations or food themes!
3. Create a Go-to Task list for Student Employees
Nothing is worse than student employees standing around after the back-to-school rush is over. Make sure your students always have tasks to work on by creating go-to task lists for when they have completed all tasks for the day or for the odd case that a student's supervisor does not have a project for them to work on. Students will be happier in their jobs if they have things to work on instead of the dreaded alternative of staring at the clock waiting for the shift to end. These tasks can include things like wiping down counters, filling inventory, or folding t-shirts. While it may seem simple, these lists can make a big impact with students' overall happiness on the job and keep them productive throughout their shift (double bonus!).
4. Provide students with feedback through performance reviews
Again, while working at the store may be just a part time job for some students who are interested in making extra money during the school year, making your store a place for students to get real life skills and experiences is important. Students will buy into making your store successful if they feel like an important member of the team. Performance reviews give you the opportunity to express to students their strengths, areas to improve upon, and your gratitude for their continued help. Performance reviews will encourage students to keep improving and working hard. You can have your full-time team quickly assess each student through a Google doc or a printed form to help in performance reviews. This also gives supervisors an opportunity to sit down one-on-one and get to know individual students.
5. Have fun with themed uniform days!
Show off your school spirit or celebrate a holiday with uniform theme days! Most stores require some type of uniform for students that are not always the most glamorous. Create a fun atmosphere by allowing students to wear spirit-wear on game days, ugly holiday sweaters before winter break, or luau gear before summer break! Students will enjoy the break from the regular uniform and customers will appreciate the fun. Be sure to note and enforce standard uniform policies like closed-toe shoes, wearing name tags, or jeans without holes. Be sure to get full-time staff to join in on the fun too by offering a prize for best costume for those who participate.