Part-timers are valu­able as­sets in the work­place

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - BUSINESS - LEANNE WATSON SOUTH­ERN CROSS UNI­VER­SITY

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

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