SHRM recently wrote a cover article, Part-Timers Make People Strategy Whole, discussing the value of part-time employees and the shift in both numbers of and profile of part-timers in the workplace. In the past companies shied away from part-timers feeling like they weren’t as committed or engaged to the job as their fulltime counterparts. Since the start of the recession, however, part-time employment has been on the rise. This is due, in part, to people’s desire to work at any job, part-time or fulltime. Additionally there are more part-time openings in the marketplace as companies realize that offering part-time employment may be more cost effective due to decreased employee benefits and a reduction in overhead costs.
It used to be that part-time employment was mainly for clerical, low level, or retail sales employment. Increasingly professional jobs such as doctors, teachers, lawyers and client serving businesses have begun offering part-time opportunities and with much success. When you were growing up, did you ever think a job share for a grade school teacher could work? That’s exactly what my son had recently in third grade and not only did he have one great teacher, but two who split the week 2.5 days/week each. Part-time employment in professional positions offers the work life balance that is often not achieved with fulltime employment. Part-time employment also allows companies to retain high performing employees who might have otherwise left due to work life balance.
While part-time employment has its benefits for both the employee and the company, there are a few things to keep in mind when either hiring into a part-time position or reducing hours for a current employee:
- What are the criteria for eligibility for current employees? Is there a certain performance standard that needs to be met before going part-time?
- What are your expectations for “getting the job done”?
- How will you support part-timers when they’re not in the office?
- How will you ensure communication among the department or organization?
These are just a few things to consider as you begin to think about part-time employment. Where once it seemed it couldn’t work, think again – it might make sense for you and your employees!