THE TEEN SCENE
Workers under 18 aren’t just fresher-faced versions of regular employees, though. For one thing, they are subject to stricter federal and
state work and safety rules. And while teens are often enthusiastic
employees, the HR professionals who recruit and manage them also
understand that, well, kids will be kids. There are special techniques
and considerations to keep in mind—from curbing phone use to managing helicopter parents—to get the best results. After all, these employees will set the tone for the season and could be an asset to your
company long after summer is over.
A (SMALLER) INFUSION OF YOUTH
Many teens today are too busy with sports, academics and other activities
to take summer jobs. In fact, the share of 16- to 19-year-olds who work
has been steadily declining for years. From the 1970s through the 1990s,
more than half of them were employed or looking for a job, according to
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But by 2024, only about 1 in 4 will
actively seek work, the bureau forecasts.
The shortage of available young workers, especially in an already
tight labor market, has caused some employers to look abroad for help.
Each year, employers hire tens of thousands of foreign students on
temporary work visas. Uncertainty about immigration policy could
be a wild card for businesses that pursue that strategy.
Still, the summer job marks a rite of passage for many American
teenagers. Susan Seubert, vice president of HMSHost in Bethesda, Md.,
a food and beverage company that serves travelers, is grateful there
are young people who still want to work at the highway travel plazas
her business manages. The kids are available to
work during summer and winter breaks, which
matches peak travel seasons when customers
food into the Burger King, Starbucks and other
fast-food restaurants the company operates. The
employees, who work as cashiers and baristas and
in other positions, are a key part of the workforce:
Of the roughly 15,000 people HMSHost hires
each year, about 1,100 are under 18.
Sometimes, seasonal workers become full-time
stafers, providing a pipeline of already-trained,
reliable hires. At Six Flags America’s Upper Marl-
boro, Md., amusement park, about 30 percent
of the year-round, full-time workforce started
as teens, according to human resources director
It might sound counterintuitive, but these inexperienced workers can provide a measure of
workforce stability. When you hire youth for the
summer rush, you can avoid bringing on temps
who might leave for a full-time job. That’s one
reason Timberlane Inc. recruits teens, says
Brandi Yanulavich, director of people and culture at the Philadelphia-area manufacturer that
makes custom exterior shutters. Timberlane has
55 employees and hires about six workers each
summer when demand spikes for jobs like sanding and boxing up products.
The company’s full-time staf enjoys the infusion of youth. “They’re fully invested in training
the summer workers, so they’re enthusiastic,”
Yanulavich says. “They value the help and see
[the young people] as hard workers.”
REACHING THE KIDS
To hire teens, frst you need to fnd them. Counseling ofces at local high schools are often key
partners. Yanulavich visits vocational and technical colleges and invites student groups and advisors to tour the Timberlane plant.
McClain at Six Flags sets up recruiting booths
at school job fairs and generally sees a big uptick
in applications after ward. He also works with the
schools in other ways, such as by visiting classes
to talk about resume building.
Pipino stays active in the community and conducts mock interviews in high school business
“Our staff, in particular our younger
staff, make it happen. My income is
based on their efforts,” says Patrick
Pipino, who owns a Ben & Jerry’s
ice cream franchise in Saratoga
Springs, N.Y. About 70 percent of his
50-person team is between the ages
of 16 and 18. “When you’re around
young people all day, it keeps you
young. They have lots of energy.
They’re very idealistic.”