In recent years, there has been a significant increase in jobs with non-traditional work arrangements, including contingent work, telecommuting, interdisciplinary roles, job sharing, etc. Among these non-traditional arrangements is the rise in popularity of part-time work.
For companies, part-time workers can provide more flexibility in scheduling, offload work from busy full-time staff or even mitigate the effects of a layoff. For employees, part-time work can allow them to find work-life balance while attending school, parenting, caring for ailing or elderly relatives, dealing with illness, transitioning into retirement, etc.
Regardless of the reason for their part-time work, or whether the arrangement is temporary or permanent, part-time employees can make an invaluable contribution to your organization.
But for managers looking to create a high-performing team, there are some differences in the way they should manage part-time staff to address things like: business continuity, engagement, communication and development.
To address these differences, here are some best practices for managing part-time employees.
Make the Right Hire
Whether you’re hiring an employee to work full-time or part-time, never comprise on quality and fit. Make sure the employee has the knowledge, skills and experience needed for the role, but also the cultural fit and values needed to succeed. Don’t lower your standards just because the person won’t be a full-time contributor. And be clear with all candidates about why the role is part-time and the prospects for a change.
You want to be sure that you and the employee are aligned in your expectations for the number of hours to be worked in a week, as well as the tenure of the part-time status. Some people accept a part-time job with the hopes it will eventually become a full-time role; if there are no prospects for this change, be up front about that to avoid disappointment on both sides.
Cultivate a Sense of Inclusion
Sometimes, it can be hard for a part-time worker to feel included and a part of the team. When possible, try to set core business hours, when all employees are in the office and working at the same time, or at least allow some overlap or rotation of shifts so your full-time and part-time employees work together and get to know each other.
When planning team activities or group meetings, make sure you include your part-timers and try to schedule things so everyone can attend. Let all your staff see that you view them as one team, not two separate groups of workers: full- and part-time.
Avoid Break-Downs in Communication
One of the biggest challenges in managing part-time staff is ensuring they don’t miss out on vital communications when they’re not at work. So plan group, departmental and/or company meetings for times when everyone is working. If your part-time staff miss one of these meetings, make sure you communicate the essential details to them in the form of an email or personal follow up meeting.
It can also help to assign each part-time employee a “work buddy” who catches them up on any information, events, decisions or details they miss. And make sure you apply the same standards for manager-employee communications to both your full-time and part-time staff.
For example, if you meet individually with all your full-time staff once per week to review progress and performance, set up a similar meeting with each of your part-time staff. Communicating effectively with part-time staff can take a bit more effort and thoughtfulness, but this will pay off in productivity, engagement and loyalty.
Keep Goals, Productivity and Time Expectations in Line
One of the challenges many managers face in evaluating the performance of part-time staff is keeping in mind the fact that their productivity or results should be “pro-rated” with the number of hours they work. You can’t expect the same output from someone who works 22.5 hours per week as you do of someone who works 37.5 hours per week.
Yet it’s easy to lose sight of that, especially when you have full-time and part-time employees fulfilling the same role. When you’re setting goals for your part-time staff, make sure they can realistically be accomplished in the hours that they work and following their regular work schedule/days. Don’t assume that your part-time staff can automatically put in extra hours or change their schedule any more than you expect that of your full-time staff.
Part-time work does not mean the employee is “on call” and at your disposal at any time. But do give them concrete goals, work and projects they will be held accountable for. Don’t just assign them bits and and pieces of incomplete or overdue work; these employees should be able to claim ownership over particular tasks–ones that challenge their abilities and further develop them.
For more information about goal setting best practices, read this article on effective goal management.
Support Growth and Development
When supporting the development of your staff to build a world-class workforce, don’t overlook the development needs of part-time employees. They deserve your investment as much as full-time workers. As with any employee, supporting the expansion or deepening of their knowledge, skills, abilities or experience, and addressing any performance gaps will only help their productivity and the organization’s.
Give Them a Place to Call Their Own
If you work in an office environment, try to give your part-time staff a permanent cubicle or space to work from. This will give them a sense of belonging, help provide continuity for their work, make them a visible part of the team and support engagement and retention. There’s nothing worse than being a “nomad” at work, floating from one temporarily vacated workstation to the next.
Ensure Business Continuity
Make sure you have a way to get answers to questions or to handle urgent matters when your part-time employee is not at work. This could involve:
- identifying a full-time employee who’s responsible for providing support when the part-time employee is out of the office
- arranging a way for the part-time worker to be “on call” and available by phone, text or email a certain times should an urgent business need arise
- staying in close touch with the part-time employee’s work so you can address any issues, questions or concerns when they’re not in the office
Whichever option you choose, you need to find a way to ensure business continuity.
Like all employees, given the right management, part-time employees will reward you with performance, passion and loyalty. Adapting your management style and techniques to address their unique needs will help ensure everyone’s success.
What’s your experience? Are there any other management practices you’d recommend?
* Image source: Reference for Business