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Why should business encourage part-time and flexible working practices?

Many small businesses fear taking on people in part time positions, they worry about the lack loyalty, investment and commitment they could get from a part time employee.  Our own experience is completely the opposite.  We asked Siobhan, Georgia and Claire to tell us why employing in a more flexible way has benefits for both them and business in general.

Siobhan

Redundancies, 3 children plus a now self-employed husband proved that it made more sense for me to leave work, though it wasn’t part of my grand plan. Childcare costs and organising 3 children meant that having 1 parent at home was our only option.

I had a few part time seasonal and temporary jobs. When my youngest son started school, I was offered the opportunity to work alongside Jason and Katherine in Keeping HR Simple.  My confidence and skills had taken a battering, despite 6 years working as a Call Centre Manager. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do anything and would be a hindrance rather than a benefit to any business. Katherine and Jason were understanding, and we eased into a working relationship over a few weeks that thankfully saw the questions dwindle to only 10 or 15 per day.

Flexible and part time working has been a godsend for me. I work while the children are at school so I can supervise/do homework (hope the teacher isn’t reading this!) and I can take them to after school activities.  I do appreciate the view that working part time means giving up a career and I think in many businesses, this is possibly still true – it looks at least to the outside world that to earn promotion, you have to put in long hours. As a working mum, that just isn’t an option for m. If I don’t collect from school, supervise homework or make dinner then it won’t get done! Businesses could do more to dispel the myth that working fewer hours means less commitment. I think about clients while driving to school, send texts to candidate to wish them good luck at an interview when making dinner and I have done phone interviews sitting outside the gym to fit in with a candidate’s schedule.

I just hope that as my family life changes again over the next few years, I can find a different level of flexibility that embraces the fact that I have valuable skills. I will have more time available as my sons become more independent but still allowing me to look for the ever elusive perfect work life balance.

Georgia

Working a 0 hours contract has really given me the boost I needed. I am a single mother and have been since my baby was 5 months old. As much as I love spending time with him, I felt ready to return to work after his 1st birthday. Returning to work has been good for my mental health; having regular adult conversation and focusing on something that isn’t baby related feels like a break!

The flexibility Katherine and Jason have given me has been amazing. I can change my days/hours to suit my child’s nursery placement, doctors’ appointments and not working full time still gives me the quality time with my child which I absolutely love. Having this flexibility makes my life a lot easier and I don’t feel uncomfortable about swapping my hours in fear of being penalised. This also works well for Katherine and Jason as they can ask me to fill in on days that they need covering for business reasons.

Part time working mums get penalised financially as it is. Going back to work has very little or no financial incentive – if I was made to feel uncomfortable about requesting flexibility, I would have definitely thought twice about returning. I think it is really important for managers to understand that reduced hours doesn’t mean reduced commitment.  Personally, I am always made to feel appreciated at work and the flexibility of my contract without being questioned should be the norm for all companies – it shouldn’t be considered a benefit. I didn’t have to return to work at all, so being back at KHRS speaks volumes about how much I value the company.

Claire

Having worked full time throughout my life and having built a career I did wonder how having a child would affect the work opportunities available to me.  Since my son was 9 months old, I have worked part time, working around nursery and school days.  Working part time has given me the opportunity to remain in the workforce, providing that essential level of self esteem that you get from working and being out in the world whilst also giving me the time to raise my child.

Imagine leaving a career in marketing and then trying to return after 10 or 15 years?  I certainly would not have started where I left off because of all the changes in the way we go to market now.

I am committed to the business I work for because they have provided the opportunity for me to remain in the workforce, learn the new skills needed to do my job well without the massive career break.  Am I less committed than a full-time employee?  I would go as far as to say I am more committed because I can work part time.

If all employees were offered flexibility without being discriminated against, the majority would be committed even more so than their full time counterparts and loyal to their company.

The Simple Take is: Part time doesn’t mean less commitment, it probably means more!

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Keeping HR Simple Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 6981705. The registered address is c/o Moore Thompson, Bank Chambers, 27A Market Place, Market Deeping, Peterborough, Cambs, PE6 8EA