Part Time Employees
The Face of Your Organization
Companies and organizations often use part time employees to serve in a limited role. They are not paid as well as full-timers, sometimes do lower level work, and may have a limited career track. They may be moms who have priorities at home, seniors who no longer want a 40 hour work week, or college students looking to earn some money to supplement expenses. They are hired to reduce operating costs, fill leftover hours from full time employees, deal with an economic downturn, or seasonal requirements. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of employees working part time increased by 300 % or 9 million people.
These people serve an important role in an organization. They may be the first person a client or customer meets when coming in the door or on the phone. You may rely on them to perform an important task in a timely manner. Their attitudes toward what they do can be vitally important to your success, yet they often feel like second class citizens.
Every successful business or organization has a culture which is reflected in their core values. Whether an employee works 8 hour per week or 40 hours per week, they must understand and be part of that culture. The Disney organization is one that is recognized for the strength of its culture and employs a large number of part time employees. Even though many work as few as 6 weeks a year, each one receives three days of training. Disney knows that employees at all levels need to understand the role they play and the value it brings to the overall effort. They need to feel a part of the team.
Let’s consider what you can do.
Offer Adequate Training- They need to be taught the fundamentals of their duties and what is expected on a daily basis. Failure in the communication of expectations can lead to misunderstanding and conflict. That training may occur in a variety of ways, but it should never be assumed that it is not necessary. Even if the employee has a work history from precious employment, that is not a guarantee that their performance will conform to your expectations.
Offer Guidance- Be open and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions about their tasks and the tasks of others with whom they will work. Be a mentor or have someone you trust serve as a guide. This will help assure that the employee feels involved and accelerate their learning.
Offer a Consistent Schedule– Constantly changing an employee’s schedule may become an issue. They may be going to school or caring for children and need to work around other priorities. Communicate a typical work scheduled be sure there is going to be no conflict. If it is necessary to change a schedule, provide notification as early as possible.
Be Flexible-Whenever possible, accommodate the need for flexible work hours. The flexibility may be a key benefit you provide to someone who needs to get children to dance lesson or doctor’s appointments. This benefit may be the key to longer periods of retention and, therefore, less time spent on recruiting, hiring, and training.
Extend Benefits-Not all benefits are financial. Participation in contests or a company retreat are benefits with minimal cost, career counseling or a credit union. Many people we know work at golf course for the benefit of free play. Also always invite them to after-hours and social events.
Be Inclusive- Include them in planning teams and committee assignments. They have different levels of responsibility, but they often make it possible for full-time employees to do their work more effectively.
Provide Advancement Opportunities- Many are part time employees because they have difficulty finding full-time employment. The incentive of moving into a full-time position can be a great motivator. In fact, part-time employment can be a great testing ground for future full-time employees.
It is important to understand that part-time employees, just like full-time employees, are the face of your organization. Customers and clients don’t care about the employment status of those with whom they come in contact. The best companies understand that how they treat their employees is how they will treat your customers and this applies to part-timers.