Five Important Rules Teenagers Need to Know About Work!

Summer is just around the corner and with it comes your teenager’s first venture into the world of work. Whether it is an unpaid internship in a local office, bagging groceries or scooping ice cream, your teenager is now employed!  In most cases, a surprising fact will arise, our teenagers will work harder, better and faster in their new job than they have ever worked around the house. However, the world of work is very different from school, or sports or even chores so it wouldn’t hurt to remind them of these five important rules:


1) EARLY is On Time

Interviews with several local managers from large supermarkets to small coffee shops and all of them lament one fact that no one shows up on time. Being late is a pet peeve of nearly every manager I spoke with and often they themselves end up covering shifts for employees that are late.  A simple fix, aim to arrive 10 minutes early and two important things will happen. One, you  will be noticed for being early and those brownie points will go a  long way for the day that you are unavoidably late. Two, if your manager has had to step in and work for someone, they will not soon forget who they are covering for, nor will they forget the employee who came to their rescue, YOU!


2) Teenagers Are Being PAID to WORK

No matter what job you are in there is inevitably going to be some down time. If you have finished your work or you don’t happen to have any customers because it is raining, go ask for more work. Your supervisor will not mind being asked  “is there anything else I can do for you?”  Goofing around with your fellow bored workmates and/or shooting the breeze with friends who happened to stop by is never welcome by management for more than let’s say 30 seconds. As a teenager, your position is most likely paid by the hour, so any time you are not working (or wasting time) is costing the business money. Always think like you own the place and make your decisions from there.

3)  The Phone STIGMA

Let’s face it we are still in the infancy of working out the cultural norms of cell phone use and it most certainly can have an impact on your teenager’s employment status. Some businesses will not allow phones to be out during working hours, simple enough, so make sure you set it to silent and keep your phone in your locker, car, employee break room or wherever it will be out of sight. HINT: If this is a rule where you work, then you can bet someone has the proverbial hair across their you know what about cell phones. Best not to poke that  bear.

If there are no rules about cell phone use than keep these simple ones in mind. If you are supposed to be working than you should not be checking your phone. If you are with a customer, then you should definitely not pull out your phone.  (I was in the market yesterday checking out my groceries and I had to wait for the clerk to finish texting before she started my order, just wow!) Also, if your boss/supervisor/manager or anyone who looks important is in your area of employment, whether they are there to talk to you or not, don’t get on the phone.


4) Always Something to CLEAN

This one links back to number two in a way because if you are being paid to work and the work is “done” and the manager or supervisor is busy, it never, never, never, never, never, never hurts to CLEAN! Wipe down anything: counters, windows, grab a mop and spiff up the floor, organize the papers/junk drawer at your counter, water the plants, alphabetize something, put away stock, dust, etc. I think you get the point on this one, it is not hard to attempt to look busy even when you aren’t.


5) Manners Are EVERYTHING!

Dust off that smile no matter what mood you are in, because the reality is no one wants to see anything less. You will encounter difficult people, both customers and supervisors but you will never go wrong being polite. Drown people in please, thank you and other pleasantries even if they don’t deserve them. You represent your boss and the business where you work so everything you say and do matters. You can’t go wrong by being polite, friendly and apologetic, especially when you mess up!


Photos Courtesy of Ryan McGuire Photography

About LB Living Better

Lisa Bates has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, Certification to teach Behavioral Sciences and a degree in Business Administration. From school administrator and non-profit executive, to teacher, coach, counselor and mom, Lisa has extensive experience, knowledge and training working with children from toddlers to teenagers. Currently, Lisa owns and operates LB Living Better an organizational and educational services business. Lisa has just released her first book, Barbies in the Horse Bin, Living Better with Organized Children and she is a seasoned, energizing, humorous, workshop presenter with extensive experience. As a mother of three teenagers including twin boys, Lisa maintains her sanity by writing, travelling and playing with her dogs. Read more about Lisa Bates at or contact her at

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