Staffing with Students During a Pandemic


Staffing with Students During a Pandemic


Students make great hourly workers - something that becomes clear when they return to school in the Fall. The start of a new semester can be a strain, both for businesses that depend on students’ availability and for the students that depend on the income. Beyond these typical challenges, however, this year the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the way students work and the way businesses operate. With the pandemic disrupting business, schools and colleges, here are the top three things to consider when it comes to student staffing.


1. Adapt to New challenges

You may find that you’re losing fewer students this semester than you’re used to. With colleges shifting to online teaching, students may find it easier to balance school and work. Add to that the fact that many students are deciding to delay their studies or are having trouble applying altogether and you may find that you’re not experiencing the same Fall-turnover as usual. On the flipside, if you’re in a college town and depend on students coming to you, state lockdowns and remote learning may mean you have fewer candidates to choose from.  


2. Flexible Working Is Key

Flexible work is more attractive than ever in the current environment. From an applicant’s perspective, uncertainty about the progression of the virus and changes to lockdown restrictions make part-time, flexible shift patterns more attractive. You may even find that demand changes while more and more of your customers are working flexible at-home shifts themselves.


3. Take Care of Your Staff

Now more than ever, considering what personal and professional struggles your workers might be going through is essential to keeping them happy, healthy and safe. For example, with schools closed, consider how your staff might not only have to juggle work and study but childcare too. Communicate with your workers on whether they’re living with high-risk individuals, or if they’re high-risk themselves. With those you do hire, follow the CDC guidelines on avoiding workplace fatigue to get the most out of your staff.


For what it’s any normal year, if you were feeling the pinch of students returning to school, here are a few things we’d recommend to make the transition easier.


1. Seasonal Work

First, consider how seasonal your business is. Most businesses in foodservice and hospitality see an uptick in business during the summer months and hiring students on summer vacation are a great way to keep up with demand. While you might be losing your student staff as they go back to their studies, you might also be seeing a natural decline in demand, meaning you have less need for staff as a whole.


2. Alternative Shifts

If you still need your student workers, consider offering alternative working arrangements to keep them on staff, making it easier for them to balance school with work.. Trying out part-time contracts, rotating schedules or shorter shift patterns help students maintain an income without committing to full time work.


3. Attracting Freshmen

Remember that the start of each semester will usually mean an influx of new students moving to the area and looking for work. Take advantage of the start of the new year to advertise your opportunities to incoming freshmen and grow your applicant pool.



About the Author

Joe Mackenzie is a writer and editor for Snagajob at Upwork. They write articles on tech, business and lifestyle, focusing particularly on the impact of the coronavirus. Joe's first hourly job was at the Royal Oak pub.

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