Hiring minors is a given in some industries. Hop in line at your favorite fast food joint or take a dip at the YMCA and you’re bound to encounter more than a few teenage employees. Retail, leisure and hospitality management establishments rely strongly on minor employees to keep their cash registers ringing and lines moving year-round, but some organizations view hiring minors as risky business.
In truth, there are pros and cons to bringing teens into your workforce. Every business is different. Some will benefit from young blood– and others, not so much. Evaluating the pros and cons is the essential first step to deciphering whether or not your business will benefit from hiring minor employees.
The upside to hiring minor employees
Enthusiastic and highly adaptable
Minors are often enthusiastic about taking on a new job. They like having responsibility and tend to make the work fun. This attitude can rub off on coworkers, creating a happier, more playful and fun work environment for everyone.
Plus, young workers aren’t yet set in their ways. The whole idea of work is new to them. They probably won’t be as stubborn as some of your older employees who’ve been around the block a time or two. They won’t have much trouble adapting to new environments or ways of doing things, which makes them easy to teach.
Quick to learn
Minors start at ground zero in terms of work experience, but they are quick to learn. They’re in school learning new things every day, which makes them well-positioned to soak up new information in the workplace. They’re also adept at figuring out new technology, which can be a big help to less tech-savvy employees.
While your young hires will certainly need some mentoring from more experienced employees, they can help older coworkers learn as well. Teens are usually the first to learn new cultural references, norms and technologies. They view tasks and problems differently than their elder coworkers and can show their coworkers new ways of looking at (and solving) typical workplace hurdles.
Less expensive labor
The ability to pay a lower hourly rate is helpful if your business is tight on funds. The average hourly wage for teen jobs across the country is $17 according to ZipRecruiter data, with the typical range being $13 to $19. Depending on your state, you might also get a tax break for hiring a minor.
The downside to hiring minor employees:
Training inexperienced teens requires more time, resources and guidance from other team members. Getting minors up and running won’t happen as quickly as with adult employees. You might also have to adapt to a younger learning style. Teenagers are used to having materials to refer back to. Younger generations who’ve relied on technology their entire lives tend to rely heavily on Google or written materials to show them what to do. They might not remember your instructions if they don’t have something to look at.
It’s no surprise to say that minors are less mature than adult employees. They haven’t had that much life experience so far, and they tend to think they know a lot more than they actually do. You might have to pay special attention to how they interact with coworkers and correct any negative behaviors. On the bright side, teens tend to rapidly mature over the course of their first job.
Still, more policing can be required for your younger employees. Some minors might goof off or reach for their phones a little too often. Be prepared to coach your young hires through high-pressure situations, possible frustration and sticky customer interactions.
Increased regulation requirements
Regulations dictate when minor employees can work, how many hours they can take on, and what safety measures must be taken in the workplace. For example, 14 and 15-year-old teens can only work 3 hours on a school day and 8 hours on a non-school day. These restrictions complicate manual scheduling, requiring managers to keep track of how old each employee is and which days they go to school.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) even deems certain jobs too hazardous for minors. View a list of hazardous occupations found here. Teens also might not be able to use certain pieces of equipment due to federal and state regulations.
Some state regulations differ from federal regulations. In this case, employers are to follow the rules that offer minors the most protection. In other words, opt to adhere to the stricter set of regulations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) also requires proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as training for minors in regard to relevant hazardous materials and the protections offered by OSHA.
Hiring teens means you have school schedules, extracurricular activities and family obligations to contend with. Predictable obligations are easy to work around, but you never know what might come up with a minor. Whether it’s a last-minute school activity or a particularly busy homework day, teens have conflicts that adult employees likely do not. This really isn’t the end of the world, though. Teens can trade shifts just like any other employee, as long as they adhere to the regulations.
If compliance concerns are keeping you from incorporating minor employees into your mix, TCP’s Humanity Scheduling software has a solution to help simplify the process. Automate scheduling based on your young employees’ ages and school calendars to remain compliant, even in your busiest seasons.