Part-time working, full time commitment
There’s no real definition of part-time work in terms of hours. The definition just means fewer hours per week than a full-time job. But there’s still a stigma attached to part-time or flexible working. Flexible working is often associated with women returning to work after maternity leave or having to fit jobs around a school run or even working in low paid or low skilled professions. This view is a tad outdated to say the least.
Flexible working arrangements and a good work-life balance is considered one of the top employee benefits. Personnel Today reports more than 45% of employees put flexitime as one of their top two types of flexible working, yet only 37% of their employers offered it. Working from home on a regular basis and compressed hours were the most useful type of flexible working for 28% and 25% of employees respectively. Yet, in reality, only 22% of employers offered the opportunity to work from home and only 19% offered compressed hours.
How did I come to work part-time?
Coming back to work after maternity leave was a huge change and I had a lot of concerns about whether I could still do the job, or even if the company still needed me! Neither my husband or I have jobs that are 9-5 in the same place 5 days a week, so juggling 2 work schedules with a new baby plus 3 step children was a full-time job in itself. I used some of my outstanding holidays to take every Friday off for the first few weeks back to ease myself in.
Our little boy has Down’s Syndrome and whilst his health and development are going well, he still has quite a few medical check-ups and appointments, and taking Fridays off enabled me to coordinate things into that day. I was able to fully dedicate myself to work for 4 days a week knowing I had a day to focus on our son and everything else.
Flexible working offers many advantages for employers:
- Increased employee morale, engagement and commitment
- Reduced absenteeism
- Increased ability to recruit outstanding employees
- Reduced turnover
- Less time wasted travelling, improved productivity
- Increased diversity of workforce
- Encouraging gender equality in senior positions
- Allows people to work when they work best
- Extended hours of operation for departments such as customer service
- Develops the image of an employer of choice with family-friendly work schedules
Let’s look at the disadvantages:
- Some employees may take advantage of the flexibility
- Some managers may find it difficult to adapt to this method
- Jobs that require customer-facing responsibilities can only allow certain types of flexitime
Overall, the advantages generally outweigh the disadvantages. It may mean recruiting and training people differently to work and manage schedules in a more flexible manner.
The Power Part Time List, which is now in its 5th year (unfortunately I haven’t been approached!), illustrates some of the great talent working part-time for organisations such as: Amazon EU, BBC News, Deloitte, DWP, Diageo, Google, Goldman Sachs and also broadens horizons as to why people choose to work part-time. Spoiler alert: it isn’t all about women and childcare.
I think it’s time to stop viewing part-time working so negatively. Your employees are sure to love you (more so than they do already, of course), you will retain your best employees and drive productivity.