All the arguments we’ve heard against part-time — and how to win them

We put the call out to the Beam community about all the arguments they’ve heard against part-time — and they more than delivered!

Why are we so passionate about this?

One: Because without great part-time roles, some of the most amazing, qualified, productive people in our community are left out or employed in roles that don’t use their full capabilities. (Workplace flexibility is awesome, but we know that if it doesn’t include part-time, it won’t be enough.)

Two: Because we believe that the businesses and HR leaders who can hire these part-time professionals will have a true business edge (and those who can’t will struggle to hire the best talent, particularly women at a more senior level.)

Hiring part-time is the chance to leave a real legacy!

Ok, here goes!

They say: This is really a full-time role.

Beam says: Can you explain what you really mean by this? 🙂

They say: The workload is too much for part-time.

Beam says: Only if more hours in the office will actually mean more work gets done. Did you know that women working flexibly waste less time than any other workers! Also productivity peaks at 25 hours per week. (Trials of a 4-day work week at Perpetual showed a decrease in meetings and stress and an increase in wellbeing…all with no less work being done after losing a day!).

All that said, if a role is to be part-time, then it must be properly designed to ensure that the work is manageable.

BUT, hiring part-time means you could hire another person to help manage that workload…

They say: A part-time person won’t be available if there’s an emergency.

Beam says: Most part-time professionals are happy to negotiate on this. Flexibility is a two-way street.

They say: Part-timers aren’t as serious about their careers.

Beam says: People want part-time because they’re parents, carers, athletes, business starters, budding authors, etc…not because they want less challenging work.

They say: Part-time is something that should be earned, not advertised.

Beam says: Hire the best person for the job (part-time or full-time) and they’ve earned it — by being smart, skilled and the best fit. Ask yourself if you’re a results orientated work environment.

Also, 32% of people work part-time. In a skills shortage, do you really want to narrow the pool of great candidates?

They say: Part-time will increase my headcount. That’s just more expensive to manage.

Beam says: This feels true. However, it absolutely isn’t a given. In fact, flexible work has actually been shown to save businesses money by increasing efficiencies and retention of staff.

They say: If we give one person part-time, everyone will want it.

Beam says: Ah the slippery slope argument! Here’s the thing, it isn’t ice-cream! Not everyone wants part-time (after all, it also means less money). And those who do will eventually leave your company anyway if it’s not on offer.

(And dare we say, so what? If everyone wants it then you’ve just become a trailblazer for the future of work (brace yourself to be inundated with Australia’s top talent).

They say: You can’t lead people part-time.

Beam says: Plenty of people already do. (You just need trust, communication and good processes — all markers of a well run business.)

They say: This role is client-facing. They need to be available full-time.

Beam says: Is this a situation where you can manage your clients’ expectations? After all, clients are people too. The right ones will understand. (Also, you now have more budget to hire someone to increase client coverage. At Quiip, they actually use part-time + remote employees to provide 24/7 service!)

They say: This role is too senior for part-time.

Beam says: PwC has just admitted four part-time partners…

They say: I only have budget for 1 FTE…

Beam says: With part-time power, you could hire two people part-time with that budget and gain two skillsets!

They say: This is a senior role. They need to be available 5 days a week for meetings.

Beam says: You probably have too many meetings. Imagine the efficiencies that part-time power might encourage at your organisation!

They say: Part-time workers aren’t as reliable.

Beam says: Actually. Employees are more likely to leave a workplace if there’s no flexibility.

They say: Our budget structure can’t handle part-time /  We have limits on headcount so I want to hire full-time.

Beam says: Oh dear. You need to chat to our consulting team! (We wish this one had a simple answer but it requires a bigger change.)

Jane is Head of Marketing at Beam, working three days a week.