Should you hire young employees in your business?
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It may seem tempting to bring on apprentices or younger staff who don’t cost as much, or perhaps you like the idea of training someone up from scratch. Let’s take a look at the positives, and the negatives, of hiring young people!
So what are the arguments for hiring young’uns?
When bringing on younger employees into a business, there are three main categories they usually fit into:
- recent graduates
You may end up dealing with each type of hire slightly differently. However, all three categories of people will be an asset to your business if they’re comfortable starting off with the little tasks. There’s always the possibility of it meaning more work for you, not less, but if you’re happy investing time into the right person, the benefits can be endless.
Spend more time with your clients
Larissa Macleman, a salon owner of 20 years and the CEO of Salon Owners Collective (and a Timely Ambassador!), says that she thinks younger employees have a lot of value to add to a business.
Having someone to support you in daily chores during your open hours can help you service more people and create a better experience for your clients.
Keep your senior staff happy
Are your senior, more highly paid staff still running around sweeping hair or making coffee? If you’ve got a small operation, they probably understand that it’s just the drill. Everyone pitches in to help out. But if you’ve got enough clients and enough space, your senior artists or technicians might start getting a bit frustrated that they’re still taking care of the small stuff.
If you hire an apprentice or part-time unskilled beginner, you can also offload smaller jobs to them. That way, you’re not paying your senior staff the big bucks for doing the little jobs.
In time, their jobs can become more skilled — from sweeping hair and making cuppas, to washing and blow-drying seniors’ clients.
Build the team you want
The other benefit to training someone up, rather than hiring experienced (or even semi-experience) help, is that you have more control. You can teach them to work the way you want them to work, which helps you run your business the way you want it to run.
Qualified people sometimes come with an “I do it this way” attitude.
And rightfully so! If they’re experienced and good at what they do, of course they’ll have opinions on how it should be done. Individuality and personal style is important.
But if you don’t feel like having to assert your position, or retrain bad (or just different) habits, a younger, less experienced hire might be the right move. And sure, you’ll have to train your young staff members. But it’ll pay you back when they’re earning on the floor and things are running just how you want them to.
It’s a two-way street
If you’re bringing someone on as an apprentice, the deal is usually cheaper labour in return for work experience and practical training.
The key phrase: “in return for.”
Are you going to be able to hold up your end of the bargain? Be honest with yourself here. Your young team members will need extra attention, especially at the beginning. You could use the cheaper labour and not spend your time educating and training them, but that won’t serve you well in the long run. Plus, you’ll earn yourself a reputation – and not the one that you want.
Set the terms in advance
The key thing to remember here is that all parties involved know what’s expected of each other. If you’re hiring someone who has no ambitions to go further in your industry and just wants a part-time job, great! But make sure you know that from the outset.
If you are never going to be able to promote them to senior stylist because your place is too small, or you don’t want a big staff, be honest.
Tell them what else they can expect to get out of your training, and how you’ll prepare them for their future.
The industry organisations that you belong to will often have guidelines that you can use to determine acceptable outcomes for the apprenticeship. The apprentice will need to be enrolled in a training establishment who can educate them on the theory, and you, as the employer, need to set up a training schedule and make time to teach the apprentice those practical skills.
Once you’re confident with your new hire’s skill level, you can start getting them to work on clients. Each person will develop differently, but sometimes it can take 2 years out of a 3-year apprenticeship before you feel that your newbie is ready to work on your clients. With others, it may be much sooner.
Until then, there are hundreds of other tasks that you can get them to do! Cleaning the premises, doing housekeeping and laundry, and preparing products for service. With some training, they can also work in front of house, replying to emails and booking appointments.
Don’t feel bad about asking them to do menial tasks like this. They’re here to learn how to work in a business, and they’ll be learning from everything you’re asking them to do. Even if it’s just making coffee for clients and doing the laundry, they’ll be learning time management and workplace skills.
Things to keep in mind with your young hires
It’s important to keep in mind that, for many youth and apprentices, working with you will be their first job. They’ll be learning what’s appropriate and what’s not in the workplace, and how to communicate with people professionally. Expect them to turn up late for work and want to go home early. Expect the quality of their jobs to slip as they get tired throughout the day.
Be kind and be firm. They’ll thank you a thousand times over if you instilled a good work ethic into them, and they’re likely to move on and forget you if you try to be their friend.
A breath of fresh air
At the end of the day, it’s refreshing to have young employees in the workplace. It adds an air of youthfulness, vibrancy, and energy to the place. Plus, you may find it rewarding to up-skill someone and give them an entrance into the industry that you chose.
The young ones bring creativity, fashion change and flare. They keep us experienced hairdressers on our toes as it’s our responsibility to teach them.
Sonya Clark, of Verge Hair, outlines how hiring young staff keeps your ideas fresh and educated.
Investing time and energy into a young apprentice is just that; an investment. You may not reap the rewards of their work straight away, but if you find the right person, they can do wonders for your business.