Part-timers are valuable assets in the workplace
DESPITE high workforce participation rates, many parttime workers’ skills, contribution and potential still tends to be undervalued by many employers.
According to the most recent census figures, more than a third of the Australian workforce is employed part-time.
For employed women, the part-time proportion is nearly half and for women with a child under five it is almost two thirds (ABS 2016).
Part-time hours are often promoted as a way to provide work-life balance and to encourage mums and older workers to stay in the workforce.
However the reality for many people who choose decreased hours is decreased skill use, limited access to training and appropriate challenges, which in some cases can lead to demotion.
In a climate of skills shortages and an ageing workforce, underusing skilled, experienced part-timers is unwise.
To realise the business opportunities part-time workers can present, employers will need to dispense with many of the myths that surround parttime employment.
The myths include believing part-time workers to be less committed, less productive and less driven.
Some employers believe part-time workers cannot be supervisors, or that setting up and managing part-time positions is difficult or that women are the only ones wanting to work part-time.
The reality is part-time workers can be highly productive – sometimes more so than full-timers.
Many crave greater challenges and are frustrated by the reduced expectations and opportunities on offer.
Employers need to recognise that part-time hours can be a life stage.
Investing in the development of people who are working part-time while studying or caring for young children can pay off when these workers seek to increase hours when study ends and children grow.
Meanwhile, when older experienced workers choose part-time hours instead of retiring they can be very valuable
THE REALITY IS PARTTIME WORKERS CAN BE HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE — SOMETIMES MORE SO THAN FULL-TIMERS
in developing and mentoring younger workers.
For small businesses seeking to expand, offering parttime positions can be a way to bring plans forward.
This is particularly relevant where finances would not yet permit adding a full-time employee in areas such as finance, human resources, information technology or marketing. Offering a part-time job could attract a skilled employee now and can expand their hours as the business grows.
Examining which jobs really need to be full-time and which could be redesigned for the right part-time person or people, can create quality parttime positions.
Leanne Watson is a postgraduate student at Southern Cross University