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With the introduction of the Youth Employment Fund, like others at Agilec, I have been working with youth and their employers. Many of the employers have been and continue to be very successful, so I asked them what they were doing right.

The main point that all employers had to say was that communication is key. What does communicating mean? Here’s what they had to say!

  • Provide a venue for 2-way communication – give them a voice and give them your honest thoughts.
  • Find time to talk with them – one employer, takes his young employees for a walk or drive away from the job site to have a “talk” so that the discussion is not disturbed by others and is not threatening.
  • If you want them to change their behaviour, tell them why and how their behaviour affects your customers – another employer explained to a youth employee that her many facial piercings and strong makeup made her customers (who are mainly seniors) uncomfortable. The youth understood her employer’s concerns and reduced her piercings and makeup!
  • Discuss the unwritten rules – youth have limited experience in the workplace and often don’t understand etiquette or even simple expectations. So they use their cell phone, head phones, are messy, interrupt, come in late and don’t offer to help. Before a youth starts work with a new employer, discuss these hidden rules with them. If they break them, forgive them and clearly explain again what is expected.
  • Learn from youth – they have fresh eyes and ideas. Seek their input whenever possible.
  • Say thank you – give them incentives for good work. Tell them how your business is really doing. Explain how the success of the business is their success too.
  • Allow them to ask questions – youth sometimes feel that asking a lot of questions reflects poorly on them because it reveals what they don’t know or understand. Actually the opposite is true. It reveals that they KNOW what they don’t know, which is great!
  • Make them accountable – explain that checking their work is standard procedure and everyone makes mistakes. The point is to learn from mistakes and allows practices to be put in place so that the mistake is not repeated.

Heartfelt thanks to the youth and employers who helped with this entry. Special thanks to Wayne from Carriere, Sheona from Happy at Home in Orillia, Carol Benedetti from Orillia Community Development Corporation, for your invaluable input and continued support for the Youth Employment Fund and the programs and services at Agilec!

by Jill Galloway, Guest Blogger for Agilec

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