Technology checklist for the student worker environment
Student worker programs are more popular than ever, offering great opportunity for the students they employ and the universities that provide them. It’s important however that they’re supported with the right software to maximize on this opportunity and provide the best experience for all concerned.
There’s a huge upside to what students can achieve and learn while employed on campus before going on to join the regular workforce. As a software company working with over 100 higher education institutions, Lorensbergs has been looking at how that opportunity can be enhanced even further, so that both students and the staff that work with them get maximum benefit from the arrangement.
Firstly why use student workers?
Student worker programs are long established and widely relied upon for a number of reasons. Firstly and most obviously, the arrangement provides students with a convenient way to work and earn their way through college. As a source of income, they continue to grow in importance as total student debt continues to climb, recently exceeding $1.5 trillion across the U.S.
Secondly they offer undergraduates essential work experience. Moreover, there are studies referenced by institutions that claim working students do just as well or better academically than those that don’t. Further claims state that grades improve as students work more hours per week (although usually capped at 20 hours) and that student workers are more likely to complete their degrees. Many feel it helps them structure their time better and gives a greater sense of community and involvement with their institution, on top of easing the financial burden. It also adds to their experience knowing that the transferable skills they are learning will demonstrate they are ‘job-ready’ once they’ve graduated.
In some cases, students are able to experience career progression, assuming greater responsibility and a supervisory status over other student workers. A varied program also gives an opportunity for students to sample different career choices, adding to their overall experience of higher education.
Where the right software counts - key checklist
The right software supports student workers and their supervisors in some fundamental ways. Here’s six key things the software should offer:
1) Well structured workflows: Foremost, the software must offer clearly structured and supported workflows which are quick and easy for new workers to grasp. It’s highly likely that the roles are temporary and, if part of a varied program, also fairly short. So it’s essential they’re up and running quickly without too much tedious training.
2) Central database: The availability of a reliable database is really important where teams are structured to work in shifts or with a number of part-time workers. It provides an invaluable record of all work or transactions carried out. As one worker clocks off and another begins, there’s a central record of activity which eases and supports communication. All too often, teams rely on inconsistent spreadsheets or sticky notes to relay important messages and data – information that should really be recorded and preserved in a central database as part of the software.
3) Roles and permissions: A system that supports different levels of authority is also really essential. Usually there are some administrative functions that only permanent or more senior members of staff will be permitted to carry out, and being able to easily structure permissions and roles in the software to suit student-level responsibilities is a must.
4) Online management support: This works all the better when the system is online, so that managers can get an overview of work carried out wherever they happen to be, simply by logging on. So it’s easy to check-in and keep a steady hand on the tiller whenever needed.
5) Management information: The software should be designed to offer management information and reporting (again, this makes an online system all the more important, for easy access to vital analytics). The MIS element to the software can provide valuable help when reporting up. Not least it ensures your team (students and all) can get credit where it’s due for working hard and getting results
6) Authentication and SSO: And finally, software designed for a student worker environment really benefits the operation when it can authenticate to the student database to provide single sign on (SSO). When managing a number of temporary student workers, less administration time is spent setting up passwords and dealing with those that have been lost. It also reduces the risks of ID theft or unauthorized exchange of IDs which most administrators would really prefer not to worry about!
With the growing need for students to earn money and demonstrate employability, expect student worker programs to go from strength to strength – especially where software is in place that cultivates and supports an efficient and positive work experience for both students and their managers.
Not least, the right technology helps students workers get job satisfaction and transferable skills in what is likely to be their first paid role - what better way to help them begin their working careers?
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