3 things business owners should do when hiring their teens

April 24, 2019 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — When small business owners hire their teenagers, they should be ready to treat their new staffers like any other employees — and be ready for some additional parent/child friction when problems arise.

Here are three things owners should do when their teen comes to work:

—Create a plan. Just as owners should do when they hire interns, they should have a plan for what their teens are going to be doing. It needs to be communicated to the teen, and to managers and co-workers who will be working with the young staffer.

—Set expectations. Owners need to speak with their children so they know what to expect, and what’s expected of them. Mike Young, owner of seven Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburger stores in Iowa, told his teens, “their last name would not be helpful to them, and in fact would make their jobs harder.” And, that co-workers would be looking to see if the bosses’ kids had to follow the same rules and standards as employees did. “If they were not, then our kids, the managers, and my wife and I would all lose credibility,” Young says. Teens also need to know that at work, their mothers and fathers are first and foremost their bosses.


Owners also need to prepare managers and other employees, informing them that the bosses’ children shouldn’t get special treatment, and that if there are problems, the owner needs to be told, says David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources provider based in Norwalk, Connecticut. “There needs to be a level of communication up front that explains what the expectations are,” Lewis says.

—Check in with your teen’s supervisors and co-workers. When Laura Smith didn’t ask her employees how her son Jordan was doing, she didn’t know that he wasn’t able to do the work as well as she expected. Smith, owner of All Star Cleaning Services in Fort Collins, Colorado, trusted that staffers would tell her, but they didn’t. Even when employees have been told to inform the boss about any problems, some may not want to get the young person in trouble. They may also be worried that they’ll be blamed for the teen’s shortcomings.


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