It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the weather is getting hotter, and the end of school is just around the corner. It’s summertime! The season of flip flops, sandy beaches, family vacations, and most importantly, no school until the fall. For younger kids, this means summer camps or lazy days at home. But for many teens and college kids, it means getting a summer job — a rite of passage on the path towards adulthood. This summer, teen participation in the job market is expected to reach 9.3%, versus 2% just a few years ago.

This year, my youngest daughter is looking for her very first job. A few hours after sending a single email to inquire if a company was hiring, she booked an interview. She’s just 15 and has no experience, but I’m confident she will get the job and it will probably pay more than I expect. Why do I think that? With historic job vacancies and rising wages, there’s never been a better summer to pick up that first job. My other daughter just received her third raise for a part time job she’s held less than a year — the company is focused on encouraging her to stay despite the fact they’re painfully understaffed. And perhaps most surprisingly, my 13-year-old son just landed an internship working at a nearby cooking school. Was it ever this easy when we were kids?

This summer teens have virtually unlimited work options. They’ll have the choice to pick from dozens if not hundreds of open positions to select their favorite job with the best pay. It’s a buyer’s market for anyone willing to work. Conversely, businesses across the spectrum are struggling to hire all the employees they need. Job openings in the US just reached an all-time high of 11.5 million open positions in the latest jobs report. That’s way more available roles than there are people to fill them.

What can businesses do to attract and keep employees? Many are increasing salaries and lowering experience requirements, but that just get applicants in the door. To retain employees, you must provide flexible scheduling, a positive corporate culture, mobile tools that make the job enjoyable, and individual training and recognition. When it comes to young summer workers, flexible scheduling is probably the most important among these. That’s where Blue Yonder’s workforce management (WFM) can make all the difference.

For teenagers, working during the summer probably isn’t as important as hanging out with friends, going on family vacations, or just having downtime to do nothing at all. So, hiring teens requires businesses meeting them where they are and creating work schedules that match their priorities, not just their availability. Sure, a teen applicant may show availability from 9AM to 6PM any day of the week, but when do they want to work? Designing a weekly schedule that accommodates each new hire’s work preferences is a great way to increase retention. But it’s nearly impossible to manage without intelligent, automated scheduling.

Blue Yonder’s advanced flexible scheduling capabilities help businesses more perfectly align labor schedules with business requirements and individual employee preferences. Here’s how it works. In addition to availability, each employee lists when they want to work — with a great deal of granularity. They can choose preferred shift duration, weekly work hours, number of workdays per week, preferred day(s) off, and (where applicable) preferred job role. Someone who can work both in customer service and as a cashier can indicate they prefer working customer service. Our scheduling engine forecasts required labor resources to meet demand throughout the week, and then builds schedules that accommodates as many employee preferences as possible while ensuring adequate shift coverage.

One teen may like sleeping in and working 4-hour shifts five afternoons a week, while a college student home for the summer may prefer working 12-hour shifts on the weekends with the rest of the week off to hang out with friends. Every employee has their own reasons they’re working, and their own priorities for how to spend their time when not working. Forward-thinking business leaders recognize that treating employees as individuals and supporting them on a personal level helps establish a corporate culture where employees feel empowered, engaged, and happy to stay.

With Blue Yonder’s WFM, all your employees get a weekly schedule closely aligned to their preferences so they can balance work with having fun — especially after many have spent the last few years isolated. When things pop up, like an employee suddenly getting a ticket to a concert, they can easily swap shifts or request time off using our mobile app. Conversely, an employee can pick up additional shifts if they suddenly decide they want to save more money before the summer ends. This level of control over their summer destiny helps make employees more engaged and productive while at work, since they don’t feel like they’re missing out on all the things they want to do.

Taking this approach to scheduling flexibility not only helps retain employees but also helps attract new hires. By offering flexible schedules managed through a mobile app, businesses can become the employer of choice for potential employees. Teens can view and manage their schedules with a mobile app, without having to write notes on a bulletin board or call or email a manager about a shift change request. This also avoids miscommunications, mistakes, lack of shift coverage, or potential compliance risks. Plus, Blue Yonder’s advanced scheduling is configured to always comply labor regulations and corporate policies, simplifying compliance that can be difficult to manage when you employ minors. Blue Yonder WFM helps you help attract summer teen workers and tackle today’s other major labor challenges. And with our new connector to Microsoft Teams, we can help build engagement and improve communication across the organization.

So, here’s to summer and taking the time to create memories that last a lifetime. It’s the perfect season to get that first job, visit somewhere new, or just take extra time to spend with friends and family. Teens working this summer will have more choice and earn more money than during more ‘normal’ times. But, after these past few years, I think they deserve it. As I send my own kids out into the workforce this summer, I look forward to what they learn, how they grow, and (hopefully) how much they save. I hope they find the perfect balance between work and play, since summer months go by so quickly and they’ll be adults working full time before I even know it. Employers that recognize the preciousness of summer and offer flexible scheduling will keep their teen employees motivated, happy, and — most likely — coming back next year.

Blue Yonder’s WFM not only offers advanced scheduling, but a full suite of capabilities including labor forecasting, time and attendance, labor compliance, long-range staff planning, and employee self service all built upon the scalable and secure Microsoft Azure cloud platform.