The benefits of offering weekend, evening and holiday work to students

Last year, the government encouraged more teenagers to take summer jobs to complement their education, stating that it will allow them to develop their soft skills and help them towards a better-paid future.  Esther McVey, then the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said holiday jobs don’t only make young people more employable but that developing their customer service and problem-solving skills will ‘build their resilience and attitude to work, as well as improve time management and the ability to juggle different priorities.’ In fact, Ms McVey said her holiday job as a waitress helped her decide her later career. Lord Adonis, a Labour peer and former Skills and Children’s minister, agreed that, although there was ‘no downside’ to this suggestion, he believes that some employers are more reluctant to employ young people because ‘There’s something about it as being seen as almost child labour, and they also think that the health and safety requirements are tougher.’ (

These are our thoughts on the pros and cons of offering young people occasional roles in your business’¦

The Pros

To begin with, the fast pace of hospitality and the high-energy and willingness-to-learn of a younger person (because, let’s face it, if they weren’t focused and willing to learn they’d probably never have applied to work with you in the first place) make a perfect fit. Yes, because they’re fresh to the working environment they’ll almost certainly need a little extra guidance and patience, but the benefits you’ll receive in return are huge – and we’re not just talking about their enthusiasm.

Think about it this way’¦

Whatever part of the hospitality business you’re in, you and your staff are always busy. But that’s why weekend, evening, and seasonal holiday roles exist – to give you valuable extra assistance during those times when you’ll need it most. You’re not just giving a young person with little or no previous work experience the opportunity to develop themselves, you’re taking the pressure off your main workforce by bringing in extra help. And here’s something else to consider’¦

When you invest in occasional staff, you’re also investing in your business’s future.

When you take on a student worker, you’ll only have them for certain periods of time to fit around their studies. But if you’ve made them welcome, trained them effectively and treated them as a valued part of your workforce, it’s very possible that they’ll be willing to come back whenever you need them, assuming the shifts don’t collide with their education.

Bringing in a student at evenings, weekends or holidays means you’re only hiring them for the times you need them, which keeps your wages bill to a minimum. It also means you can meet demand during your busiest times without having to increase the workload on your fulltime employees (which also reduces possible overtime costs.) Just as importantly, a student worker will be committed to doing the best job they can in the few hours they have available each evening or weekend, not just to earn some extra money (and we all remember how vital that is when you’re younger!) but to make a good impression on you and build up their CV. And, who knows, you might even be nurturing the skills of someone who could one day become your future assistant manager if you’ve looked after them well enough.

Also, when it’s time to look for more staff your recruitment costs will be reduced because you’ll already have a bank of reliable temporary people you can draw upon during the busiest times and holidays.

And don’t forget, if they’re a returning holiday worker they’ll already know the ropes of your business – especially your expectations as an employer – so they’ll be able to return to the job with little or no induction or training.

Finally, although we touched on it a few moments ago, it’s worth repeating that hiring young people for occasional and seasonal work makes a fantastic testing ground when you’re recruiting permanent staff. If they leave school and accept a full-time role with you, you can be confident that they’ve accepted the job because they genuinely want to work with you again and feel a connection to your workplace. That’s a huge bonus when it comes to staff retention.

So, here’s what we’d like you to consider:

Bringing in a student for evening, weekend or holiday work is good for everybody and it’s a great way to develop both employee loyalty and discover your staff-of-the-future.

But we did promise to mention the cons’¦

The Cons

There aren’t any. There’s no longer any real substance to the prejudice that young people don’t consider the hospitality industry a serious option, or that they’ll just work with you for a short while and not take it seriously. There are massive opportunities for young people to pursue a long and successful career in hospitality and more and more of them are realising that. As employers, we should be helping them take their first steps on this ladder and recognising that offering occasional or holiday work to a teenager or student can benefit us all.

Besides, even if they don’t return to our industry, you’ve taught them skills and given them the initial work experience that will serve them for the rest of their professional lives. If only from a feel-good standpoint, isn’t that a worthwhile thing to do?

If you’d like to know more about recruiting students to fill your evening, weekend or holiday vacancies or if you want to find out how we can help you recruit and retain the perfect staff for your workplace, contact us on 020 7580 4398 or email Our expert team are looking forward to meeting you.