Part-time employees: Smart play or added expense?

by: Philippe Asselin

Recently someone shared with me their teenage son averages over $20 an hour working part time bussing tables at the local BBQ place—and he receives some optional benefit offerings plus half-price food (I hear they even have fried corn nuggets!) Oddly, they are still taking applications even though they pay at that rate. I can meet you there later today . . . PM me . .  .

Does $20 an hour to bus tables sound like a lot of money—or maybe too much money? More than your part time or even full-time employees are making? Perhaps so—but more interesting to me is that they are still hiring in a town with moderate to higher unemployment levels and low overall wages compared to the national averages for financial institutions. (89% of the average to be exact) So is $20/hour actually high enough if they are still looking for more help? Will he quit and go to work at a financial institution for $12 an hour? Maybe after he graduates? Probably not, as this all-star athlete and student maintains the same “show me the money” mantra as many of his peers. It’s great to be at the age of perceived invincibility!

It would seem the best scenario would be to have all full time employees with full benefits, as many companies with a sound compensation philosophy experience lower turnover with full time employees (part time employee turnover is almost three times higher, as noted by the Hay Group Study in an article published by Fortune in September of 2013 titled “How Costco Saves Taxpayers Money.”) Typically the full-time employees are career-minded and seek long-term, stable employment, especially during economic downturns as fear grips their hearts. Often the most marketable employees consider trading up for more compensation and benefits, as they believe and typically can find employment anywhere. If this is true, would all employee turnover be detrimental? Or only when we lose the “playmakers” on the team?

Unfortunately most businesses do not have a constant and consistent rate of work coming in, especially businesses open to the public, as they are at the mercy of those they serve. Technology investments that theoretically increase efficiencies often compound the challenges. This makes the need for part- or peak-time employees paramount to some successful businesses, as the down time for full-time employees can be very costly if they are left to invent work on their own.

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