This guest post comes from Mel Stacey, Senior HR Consultant at Emphasis HR & Training. Mel addresses some of the common misconceptions about part time working, why it’s becoming increasingly important and how to respond to requests for part time hours.
Requests for flexible working have never been higher, or more important to employees and businesses.
It has been found that “part time” is sometimes incorrectly associated with people who are less committed, career focused or reliable. Full time colleagues may feel worried or irritated that they are left to pick up the slack for their part time team members, and managers may be concerned the part time person won’t be available when they are needed.
As someone who has worked successfully in part time hours for several years, I have experienced first-hand some of these negative preconceptions about part time working. I have often felt the need to hide or downplay my “less than full time working hours” status in certain settings.
Traditionally, people often worked part time because they had chosen to downscale their working life. Often, the part time employee was someone who was not a primary earner in their household.
This is no longer the case.
In the modern world the use of different working patterns, reduced hours or flexible working are not only legally required to be given consideration, but now also form the fundamental fabric that keeps modern society functioning. It is an essential method for people to contribute to society through their work, whilst at the same time delivering on the crucial role of raising a family, caring or other activities.
People who choose to reduce or adjust their hours to accommodate family or other commitments outside work are not choosing to do less, but to allocate their time differently.
Sadly because of outdated preconceptions, employers are missing out on this brilliant and cost-effective talent pool.
People who can work part time effectively need to be incredibly organised, disciplined and know when to flex and when to keep their boundaries in place. They will be able to demonstrate their ability to effectively manage competing commitments.
When business leaders are considering flexible working requests, we recommend you keep these important perspectives in mind:
- The employee’s request is not a reflection of their reduced commitment to you
- Think creatively about how you can collaborate to make it work
- Consider trial periods as a way of testing it out on both sides
- If you cannot accept their initial request, see if you can think of an alternative option and have an open discussion about it
- Encourage your employees to think about the impact the changes might have on the delivery of their role, and how that might be mitigated
- Be realistic about the types of jobs where it can work effectively
Flexible working, long associated with working mothers, is now being used to great effect by employees of all genders who have a variety of other important commitments outside work, including taking care of their wellbeing through positive work/life balance.
Based near Southampton, Emphasis HR recently provided a webinar for CIPA on dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice and support on making flexible working work within your business.