This was a panel of folks who talked about engaging with your part-time staff and how to handle turnovers. And, how do ywe keep them once they start?
Kate started speaking. She was a PT person when she started.
First, we had to recognize who are your PT staff. This could be as simple as learning their names. At her library, they have a lot of student workers, who change semester to semester. We never say, “oh, our student worker who comes in in the morning.” Know their names.
Second, understand their job duties. Do they handle a hectic desk? Are they learning new things? What kind of value do they bring? She said some of her PT staff serve as translators, and they go above and beyond to help.
Third, reward. Thank and acknowledge PT staff. Thank them for interactions, or do something more tangible. Have a gathering.
Fourth, be aware of language. “They are only part time” should never be used. There shouldn’t be any differentiation. It can create a distance between your staff and the larger institution. Many times, your PT staff are patron facing, so they know your communities better. They know the “mood” on the floor. She would spend time with supervisors to talk about ideas, patterns noticing, and what is going on.
Firth, encourage. Let them take on special projects. It develops a new investment in their position. It can also free up time for FT people. Also, utilize the strengths of PT staff. It creates a great environment and benefits everyone.
All of this comes down to being open and engaging.
Sara was next. She talked about being benefits of being a PT employee. She said it allowed for her schedule to be varied. Hours could be moved around for other responsibilities.
She also didn’t have to worry about sick days or vacation days. Shift swaps worked and using PTO didn’t apply.
She was allowed “off site” hours for greater productivity. She could do some things at home or away from the library. She had great opportunities to try new things. PT staff are often used as a “test run” for new projects and positions.
She could accept different jobs and had flexibility.
Kate Russo was next. Her staff at South River Public Library had a high turnover rate. They were hiring all the wrong people, because the talented interns they were hiring quickly were chosen for other jobs.
They were always training new people. They don’t have a training staff. This exhausted the enthusiasm of staff, and people were scrambling to cover shifts. The consistency of programs suffered. The Sunshine Fund was also depleted because they were giving stuff away for leaving staff. (haha)
The Goldilocks Hire
They changed their model to high PT people. There people wanted less hours, but were very flexible. This began in 2014, and the model has been working well. There has been great peace of mind to staff and patrons get to know them. One hire even came back for a full time job. They are willing to change the hiring model if it proves to be unsuccessful.
CL was next. She has entirely PT staff, with the exception of herself. She had three people leave in November at the same time. She spoke about training for PT staff. Most of her staff work between 5-12 hours a week. For some, it’s great. For others, it’s a stepping stone.
Things to consider:
What obstacles are there to training?
How do you best assess your staff’s training needs?
What are your priorities? Are there competencies you are using?
Are there differences between training PT and FT staff? How do we best train people who only work 5-8 hours a week?
Time - How do we do this?
Money - Sometimes training costs money
Resources - what are they?
Lack of interest - some just want to do what they want or don’t want to learn new tech.
-Start with the basics (registering a patron, looking up a record, etc)
- Customer Service
- Readers advisory
-How to do a reference interview
-Upselling (yes, we have magazines, but we also have e-magazines)
-What else is important to you?
-Tie training to evaluations
-Encourage staff to train each other. Some might click well with others.
-Create a checklist of things they need to know. Make it clear.
-Make training fun (23 things, scavenger hunts, incentives)
Then they opened it up for questions and comments. One person mentioned letting people “float” the first week. It’s tough, but it lets people get their feet wet and lets them feel welcome.
Someone else mentioned how monthly staff notes/changes should be emailed to all staff, in case they can’t make a meeting.
Someone else mentioned that all meetings should have a minute taker so that communication stays open.
There are also PT staff who like that and happy with it, and others who are looking for FT work or to move up.
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