Handling Conflicts with a Teenage Worker

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There are many advantages to employing teenage workers, which is why so many companies and businesses choose to do so.  Teenagers are energetic, fast learners, affordable, and rarely show signs of employee burn-out due to their fresh entry into the workforce.  On the other hand, there are issues that tend to arise in the workplace that are only common when employing teenage workers.  How you as an employer handle these situations can determine whether you retain good teenage help for years to come, or whether you have to permanently install a “For Hire” sign at the front door.

Teenage workers are a breed of their own, so it’s important for employers to try to empathize with their situations when handling difficult teens on the job.  Teenage workers have a lot on their minds, from school and homework to relationships and family issues, which is why they may sometimes seem distracted or stressed while on the job.  As an employer, there are several steps that you can take to help teenage employees get through the various problems that may be affecting their performance at work.

 

  • Have a one-on-one with the teen employee. Calling out a difficult teenage employee in front of the rest of the staff is a good way to make that employee feel ostracized and oppressed, which will in turn generate hostility towards the workplace in the future.  Instead, call the teen into a private area, like your office or outside of the building, and have a one-on-one conversation with the teen.  You’re more likely to discover what’s really at the root of the problem by addressing the issue at hand on a more personal level.
  • Let the teen know that you care. Sometimes it’s easy for adults to forget what it’s like to be a teenager.  Issues that may seem trivial to us can mean everything to teenagers, which is why it’s vital for employers to show empathy and understanding towards teen employees.  If a teenager is having an issue on the job, let them know that you’ll do everything within reason to address and fix the problem.  You’ll even find that settling down a disgruntled teen can be as easy as just hearing them out and letting them vent a little.
  • Be positive and proactive. You’re an adult, and as an adult you can have a huge influence on the teenagers working for you for the rest of their lives.  That’s why it’s necessary to be a positive role model for teens, showing them that you can handle any difficult situation with a sense of calm and tenacity.  It’s also vital that you don’t just take into consideration a teen’s issue; you also need to take action.  If a teenage employee is having problems with another employee, then sit them both down and try to come up with a peaceful resolution.  The way you handle situations in the workplace will stick with teenage employees throughout their entire lives, so take advantage of the opportunity to be a positive role model for every teenage employee that you’re working with.

 

If you’re employing teenagers, then conflicts are bound to arise; it’s only a matter of time before their personal lives and issues follow them into the workplace.  What’s really crucial to the success of your business is how you approach these matters.  Showing teenagers that you care about their feelings and are willing to work with them to resolve problems lets them know that you’re an employer that looks out for your own people, and one worth working for.  The influence that you have on teenager workers will stay with them forever, so make sure that it’s a positive one.

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