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People strategy

Forget the Full-Time Slog - Let's All Go Part-Time!

Clare Hopping

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A new wave of employees is increasingly requesting to go part-time, revealing the fast-diminishing appeal of a full-time, 40-hour work week.

A recent trend has been sweeping the workplace: employees are choosing to work…less? Increasingly, people are choosing the freedom of part-time work in order to seek new opportunities, both personally and professionally. They’re finding that smaller paychecks earned in fewer hours are easily balanced by maintaining multiple part-time jobs, resulting in extremely flexible hours and a similar workload.

Developments in technology are now giving us the opportunity to work for multiple companies – potentially, all over the world – from the comfort of home, offering a flexible career that fits easily around family life. It isn’t hard to see the appeal.

Good for the Company

Believe it or not, there are a number of major benefits of hiring part-time workers. Instead of employing one full-time employee with one particular set of skills, an organisation can onboard two part-time workers with a wider combined range of abilities, allowing them to harness a more roundly-skilled workforce.

GE’s famous “Bracket Challenge” provides a wonderful illustration of this concept. The company needed to develop a new bracket mount to keep jet engines held tight in airplanes, so they opened up a design contest to the public – and ultimately, an engineer from Indonesia submitted a product that vastly improved upon their original design. Opening your company to new talent only broadens the pool of available solutions.

A part-time worker also has flexible hours, making scheduling hassle-free – rather than disrupt the workday by requesting time off for, say, a dentist appointment, an employee can simply schedule work for times they aren’t working. A doubly important consequence is that this structure lends the worker a greater sense of control over their life, keeping stress levels lower. Subsequently, both the employee and company profit from the increasingly focused work of a stress-free employee.

Cost of Maintaining

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In some instances, a company may not actually need full-time work for a particular task, and they can keep costs down by hiring part-time staff. However, employers must be prudent; in areas where the employer must hire two part-time workers to cover the workload of a full-timer, the expenses may actually be greater.

Though hiring two part-timers won’t cost an employer additional wages, there can be other, less obvious costs. Part-time workers are often entitled to the same benefits as full-time workers, which means that a company will have to pay for the staff discounts, health insurance, annual public holidays, and the like that could otherwise be afforded to just one employee.

At the same time, keeping part-time employees happy means both providing these benefits while also acknowledging their individual merit. Showing part-time employees the same degree of respect as other staff – and ensuring they don’t feel like second-class workers – will make maintaining this form of employment much easier.

The Future of Employment

It’s clear that the strain of a full-time work week is gradually losing its appeal, especially as employees recognize the multitude of opportunities afforded by working part-time.

Via Medium’s Backchannel, writer Kevin Maney argues that, for workers, it’s “better to piece together work and passions in a way that makes you enough money and offers a more rewarding life.”

From an employee’s perspective, finding multiple, interesting part-time job can be much more personally gratifying than one monotonous, full-time gig. As more and more people discover the benefits of working part-time, it isn’t hard to imagine a future where this becomes the norm.

(Image credits: Mish Sukharev/flickrStephan Geyer/flickr)

Clare Hopping

Clare Hopping has been involved in the recruitment of both full-time employees and freelance staff for ten years. She specialises in recruiting staff via social media and digital platforms.