While CEOs and senior executives are entering a period of high turnover and job insecurity, the general labor market remains peculiarly tight, with many employers complaining that it is so hard to find the right people that they are frequently settling for second best. When management is prepared to consider using part-time workers – not just as a stop-gap, but as a regular employment method – they can open up to both themselves and their new employees a flexible, powerful answer to their human resource needs.
There is really no fundamental reason why part-time staff should be more difficult to manage, conceptually, than traditional full-time employees. If managers learn to think more flexibly about shifts, hours, staffing, and even techniques such as flexi-time or telecommuting, they will find that developing or adapting tracking and supervisory tools to control production and manage workers is pretty straightforward.
Moreover, they will open to themselves access to skilled, experienced, and reliable workers that are presently under-employed or unhappily not even seeking jobs, such as moms who have left the labor market due to the demands of raising young children (this is an especially valuable and under-used segment of the potential labor pool), other adults looking after aging or disabled family members, or retirees. Many firms have done quite well using, even specializing, in hiring from these groups on a part-time basis.
What employers do want to consider with part-time work forces is the need to maintain levels of training, advancement, and inter-connectivity among these employees. As the numbers of shifts and workers both increase, so will managerial attention and time to training. When part-timers are used alongside full-timers, they cannot be allowed to occupy – or perceive that they are occupying – a secondary place in the organization. They must be afforded individual training opportunities on a par with their full-time counterparts, and they should have the same standardized all-staff training requirements and opportunities as all employees.
Moreover, they should be promoted based on contribution, and not seniority as determined by raw hours. And, they should be made a full part of organizational social and community activities; managers should be careful to make them feel a continuously vital part of the overall workforce. Paying this additional attention to the part-time workforce is much like paying attention to current customers: it is much less burdensome than finding new customers (or full-time employees in a saturated market), and pays handsome dividends for all concerned.
A lot of managers in companies around the world are beginning to pay serious attention to this. Are you?
Today’s tip: Take a moment to stop over at the excellent site, Management-Issues, to read this woeful tale of modern management miscommunication, entitled, “Let them eat cake” – see the post for why.
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