HR Strategy

How to Earn an A+ on Your Student Employment Program

May 7, 2024

Student employment programs in Canada

Summer is around the corner, meaning students are searching for or starting summer jobs. According to the Canadian University Survey, more than half of undergraduates benefit from experiential learning like co-ops and internships. Through these work experiences, students bring innovative ideas and knowledge to the workplace, driven by a desire for continual learning. A seamless and positive student employment program program not only enhances your reputation among future students but also provides numerous benefits. In this blogpost, we dive into why hiring students is advantageous for your business and offer practical steps to create a successful student employment program that will earn you an A+.  

The benefits of student employment programs and hiring students  

Hiring students for internships and work placement programs, such as the co-op education program, brings numerous benefits to businesses. For starters, it’s a terrific way to enhance your team’s talent pool. Students possess a powerful desire to learn and grow, making them eager to take on new challenges and share their unique experiences, skills, and knowledge from their studies with others. Additionally, hiring students presents an opportunity for long-term recruitment of talented graduates, allowing businesses to identify and nurture promising talent earlier. Moreover, employing students can be cost-effective for entry-level positions, with government-granted wage subsidies and other tax benefits available.  

How to create a successful student employment program 

To help you get the most out of the work term, there are essential tasks to complete before, during, and after the employment period. Here are some key steps to consider when creating a student employment program at your organization. 

Apply for grants and give back to your community 

Supporting young development is essential to organizational growth. Investing in your community makes you stand out as an employer for potential student workers. This investment is an additional cost, but there are financial supports available. Check our Compliance Centre for information about provincial and federal wage subsidies, such as grants and tax credits for students, co-op, and internships. These financial supports help offset the costs of hiring student workers. Some grant programs are specific to different areas of study, including IT, engineering, business administration, accounting, and construction. 

Partnering with local schools and postsecondary institutions is a fantastic way to invest in your community. Searching for students in your community builds lasting relationships with schools and boosts your reputation among local customers. A Hiring Policy outlines ways to reach the talent pool, such as posting advertisements on job boards and attending job fairs. This policy helps you plan for student screening, interviews, and assessments. You should take your time to select the most suitable student for your organization’s dynamic. Student employment is brief, so it is important that they easily adapt. 

Build a comprehensive onboarding experience 

The to-do list with new hires is never-ending, and student workers are no exception. A comprehensive onboarding program is crucial for a successful student employment program. Regardless of the contract duration, students must complete the whole onboarding process. The Onboarding Best Practice Guide outlines how to best prepare for their first day, week, and until the onboarding period ends. Students should meet team members, tour the workplace, read and fill in forms, and participate in an orientation presentation. You should also communicate confidentiality rules and limit student access to platforms, e-mails, and files. 

Provide health and safety training  

During the onboarding process, it’s important not to neglect training. Even temporary student employment doesn’t exempt them from workplace health and safety. Assign students our Health and Safety Awareness Training for Young Workers or one of our other health and safety awareness training courses to complete. These courses cover essential information on hazards, policies, and personal protective equipment. They encourage workers to ask questions, and explaining where they can turn for support. Remember that your onboarding program is your time to make a strong first impression. 

Assign an experienced work buddy to optimize learning  

Patience is a virtue. Students often have questions that require extra attention, making competent and supportive mentors vital for ensuring they feel welcome. A Buddy Program Policy is an additional strategy to enhance your onboarding and support students as they transition into their new roles. For some students, this job may be their first. Assigning tasks to students without instructions sets them up for failure and frustration. A buddy is someone who patiently answers questions, introduces strategies to complete tasks, and offers tips for time management. Building trust between the student and their buddy is key. It’s important that students feel comfortable speaking about their challenges and concerns with their buddy. This program is beneficial for both the buddy and student The buddy acquiring new leadership and mentorship skills. The student gaining knowledge from an experienced employee. 

Schedule regular 1:1 meetings  

Communication is a major component of employment relationships. Setting aside time for a 1:1 meeting encourages healthy communication habits during the student’s work placement. An Open Door Policy establishes the importance of open dialogue to foster a welcoming and productive workplace. You should designate time for routine 1:1 meetings to give feedback and discuss goals. Planning questions, talking points, and activities ensures the meeting is productive while providing students with feedback helps them to learn while supporting their professional development. It is also important that students feel comfortable sharing their concerns and asking questions. At the end of each meeting, you should document essential points to remind students of expectations and consider their feedback to improve your current student employment program. 

Ensure the student leaves on a positive note 

An exit interview is your report card, giving valuable insight into your leadership skills. By using an Exit Interview Form for student workers, you’ll gain valuable feedback from them, enabling you to brainstorm ways to improve future student experiences. These interviews should be confidential and face-to-face meetings. Questions asked and answers should be recorded by a human resources representative or supervisor using a standardized form. During the interview, the student shares their satisfaction, developed skills, opinions on your organization, and suggestions for improvement. An important part of the interview is finding out whether the student would recommend your organization to their co-op advisor and other students. Your goal at the end of each placement is to remain a reputable employer for students.  

Final thoughts 

Students are likely to be nervous on their first day of work, but you can help ease their transition by ensuring they have a positive and memorable experience. Although these placements are temporary, a successful student employment program may lead to students becoming future job candidates after graduation. Implementing a well-developed student employment program is an excellent recruitment tool for identifying and hiring productive team members now and in the future. 

Create a positive student employment program with HRdownloads  

If you’re looking to create an effective student work placement program, speak with our HR experts today for a free, no-obligation quote.  

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