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A Solution To The War For Talent

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has caused many people to rethink what they want out of life and has placed a renewed focus on work-life balance. Working Monday to Friday, 9-5 pm in the office is fast becoming a trend of the past, replaced by hybrid workplaces, flexible work arrangements and flexible workspaces. This is no longer just the realm of working parents, people caring for loved ones or people with a disability, this is a total societal shift in thinking.

At the same time, the candidate shortage is continuing to present obstacles for employers in most industries across Australia. Employers are still competing fiercely for talent with a wider range of companies, which is compounded by a cautious job seeker market and record numbers of jobs being advertised with low levels of applications received.

A solution

Hire part-timers! We’re noticing an increased demand for part-time jobs. And it’s not just a few candidates here and there. Candidates are looking for part-time hours across the board in all areas that we work in, including property, real estate, construction and general administration. According to the ABS, as of February 2022, the part-timer's share of the employment market nationally was 31%.

Demand for part-time work has increased.

  • We are receiving more enquiries about part-time work than ever before.
  • Our part-time jobs are receiving more applications than usual.
  • Our part-time job ads are receiving more website traffic and more social engagement.
  • Increasingly the domain of female employees, an increasing number of men are now seeking part-time work, although still at significantly lower levels than women.

There are many active job seekers who simply won’t apply for a job unless it is advertised as a part-time role or provides enough flexibility to meet their needs. This means employers who are resistant to hiring part-timers are missing out on a huge pool of talent that deem their job opportunities as unsuitable.

Should employers that are having trouble attracting quality talent consider adjusting the work hours and flexibility being offered? Small changes to the structure of a role could provide big returns in the quality and volume of candidates that apply.

How to hire part-timers

Part-time doesn’t have to be a huge difference in hours to full–time and there are many ways to structure a part-time job offering. In addition, added flexible work arrangements can sweeten the deal for many job seekers, such as:

  • School hours – 9-3 pm which equates to 27.5 - 30 hours a week (depending on start times and breaks)
  • Flexibility with start times e.g., a 9:15 am start could make a significant difference to someone navigating a long commute or school drop off
  • Condensed hours such as 8-6 pm 4 days a week equates to a full-time role or close to it.
  • A mixture of in-office and work from home hours such as 3 days in office, 1 from home.
  • 9-day fortnights or one week of longer hours, one week of shorter hours
  • What can you change, automate or improve in a role to reduce the volume of work to allow it to be part-time – for example automation through tech or updated systems?

The benefits

Research has proven that part-timers are more efficient than full-time workers and have less unplanned absenteeism. 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. Other benefits include:

  • Cost savings of part-time salaries
  • Part-timers juggle work easily and are used to multitasking
  • An expanded pool of candidates
  • Increased rates of employee retention and greater loyalty - the option to work part-time is why many workers choose to stay.
  • Improved diversity in the workforce
  • Potential to reduce the chance of burnout

The Challenges

  • Measuring productivity
    One of the keys to managing a part-time and/or remote workforce is to be able to measure productivity. If the job can be done in less time with the same or increased productivity, where is the problem? If an organisation doesn’t already have productivity measures, they should, regardless of their employment policies.
  • Meeting clients needs
    One of the other challenges employers face is ensuring that there is adequate coverage to meet client needs and demands. This may make a role structured, but forensically examining where demand lies can often provide opportunity. For example, in our own office, we always open at 8:45 am, but over time our clients’ behaviour has changed and we don’t start to receive enquiries until after 9 am. This allowed us to change our opening hours and the in hours of our admin staff.
  • Managing expectations of existing full-time staff
    Many employers resistant to offering more flexibility cite the challenge of offering the opportunity to one means that they then have to offer the opportunity to all. This is difficult to navigate, but these employers need to consider the long-term implications of attracting new employees, as well as retaining existing staff.

Job seekers are increasingly looking for opportunities that offer flexible work arrangements such as part-time hours and the option to work from home. Employers that aren’t adapting to candidate expectations in this regard may end up lagging behind their competitors when it comes to attracting and retaining a quality workforce.