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Part-time work: the exclusion zone?

Plenty of research evidences the pay penalty of working part-time. But this survey by Timewise delves into a challenge that is more overlooked – the sense of not being fully part of a team. Which, in turn, contributes to poor progression.

Part-time employees isolated

In the 12 years that Timewise has been focusing on the flexible jobs market, we have heard anecdotal evidence of a key barrier facing part-time employees: a sense of not being fully part of the team.

This research survey set out to quantify the problem. It found that many part-time workers do indeed say they miss out on key meetings, on professional development events and training, and on networking opportunities.

Key findings

Among the part-time workers who responded to our survey:

  • 59% feel their skills and knowledge have fallen behind those of their full-time colleagues
  • 61% feel less up-to-date with team developments
  • 65% feel less connected to their team due to missing out on social time
  • 59% feel they are missing out on networking opportunities and have lost connections
  • 68% feel so grateful to be allowed to work part-time that they accept career compromises.

What does this mean for employers?

If part-time workers are missing out in these ways, they are unlikely to progress as well as their full-time colleagues. Not only is this a waste of their potential, it could also have a negative impact on their organisation’s gender pay gap. By failing to take part-time workers’ schedules into account when planning important meetings and events, employers are making it harder for these employees to deliver their role to the highest standards, and creating operational inefficiencies.

Employers who really want to benefit from the skills and talents of their part-time workers, need to start thinking differently about the best way to support them.

So, what can employers do to help?

In simple terms, employers need to think differently. They need to challenge the assumption that, just because something has always been done in a certain way – such as entertaining clients after work, or having team meetings on the same day and time each week – that’s the only way to do it.

By thinking creatively and innovatively about how things are done, employers can deliver a workplace culture and working week that is as inclusive of part-time workers as their full-time colleagues – and benefit from the results.

Specific suggestions, made by the part-time workers in our survey include:

  • schedule team meetings, social events and client lunches on days when part-time workers are in (rotating the days of the week if needed, to give everyone a chance to attend)
  • try peer-to-peer networking opportunities for part-time workers
  • offer part-time workers access to training budgets and opportunities to upskill
  • introduce tactics to help teams connect more easily – eg catch-up Skype calls, a WhatsApp group
  • foster top down acceptance of the valuable contribution that part-time workers make to the business.

Published September 2018

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