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Discount part-timers at your peril!

Discount part-timers at your peril!

Whilst employers are becoming more open to a part-time workforce and accepting of the many reasons a worker may choose to work part time, there’s still a lingering stigma about part-timers. It’s a common myth that part-time workers are somehow less productive and committed than their full-time counterparts. In my 19 years as a recruiter, I have frustratingly come across plenty of employers who have discounted talented candidates who wish to work part-time in favour of less talented full-timers.

In my experience, the part-time workforce is a highly skilled, productive and committed section of the workforce, and it’s not just me who thinks so. Study after study shows that part-time employees are amongst the most productive of the workforce. An Ernst and Young report conducted in 2015 found that women working part-time were the most productive in the workforce and a study reported in the Harvard Business Review shows workers with flexible work arrangements are on average 13.5% more productive. As an employer of many part-time workers over the years, I can honestly say they are the most productive group and provide the best bang for buck of all employees.

This week, Kylie Neal, Centre Manager for Adelaide Central Plaza offered her thoughts on this topic. ‘It’s been my experience that part-timer workers possess the same amount of commitment to the role and the company as full-timers. I’ve also observed their level of flexibility is just as good as full-timers, meaning they’re able to achieve good career progression and improve their overall skill set.

So why do people work part-time? For many, it’s a lifestyle decision, opting for a healthy work-life balance. For others, it’s to care for young children or elderly parents (an increasing occurrence due to our ageing population) or to manage a chronic illness or mental health issue. Whatever the reason, I’ve observed that employers have an improved awareness of the reasons why people may opt to work part-time, resulting in a greater uptake of flexible working terms.

However, there’s still a long way to go. Research conducted by Ranstad shows that Australian employers are the least open to flexible working arrangements of anyone in the Asia pacific region. Employers are often willing to be more flexible with existing employees, but less inclined to offer the same flexibility for new employees.  It seems to be a perceived risk, or that an employee must “prove” themselves, to earn the right to work part time.

The research is there; let’s put it to good use! Perhaps Australian employers need a little bit of encouragement and confidence to employ more part-time workers and become more flexible?

Before hiring staff, employers should ask themselves:

  • What is the reason I need someone in this role on a full-time basis?
  • Will my bottom line be affected by choosing part-time resources?

Most employers know that smart hiring choices are critical to the success of their business, so avoiding this most productive group of candidates is simply a wasted opportunity.

My message to employers is this; discount this treasure trove of talent at your peril! By not considering this talent rich pool of candidates during the recruitment process, employers may miss out on valuable expertise and choose a less skilled candidate simply because they’re not open to  part-time possibilities.

By Jane Carey