Does Part-Time Work Really ‘Work’?
We’re fortunate enough to live in a day and age where part-time, flexible and remote working is becoming more prevalent. With the increasing number of people wanting to create a greater sense of work-life balance, part-time work is an attractive career option. Not to mention the charity sector, in particular, is heavily dominated by women, who often seek part-time employment to accommodate their family life. In fact, there are often nearly as many part-time roles on CharityJob as full-time. Which clearly shows that the charity sector is open to more flexible forms of employment.
But the real question is, does part-time work allow you to build a career and does it impact the way that recruiters view your role?
It’s about impact not hours
Contrary to what many people think, the number of hours you work doesn’t always mean you will have less of an impact or responsibility. There are plenty of part-time job opportunities for managerial roles, job shares and directors. What actually matters is the impact that you’ve had within the organisations you’ve worked for in the past. If you’re a part-time Fundraising Officer and you’ve introduced a new campaign that has managed to increase donations by 10-15% compared to last year, will your next employer really care that you worked part-time? Probably not.
In fact, if you can prove that you’ve been a driving force behind positive change within your organisation while working part-time, you’re just solidifying your worth. It shows that you’re able to juggle the demands of a role, with a lot of responsibility and still produce very fruitful results in spite of your reduced hours.
So don’t shy away from any part-time position that you’ve held, or apologise for it. Use it to your advantage and present yourself as the person who can go above and beyond, in less time than the average. This puts you in an excellent position to negotiate your hours. If you’re willing to negotiate your salary, why not your contact type too? Providing you can prove that you’ve had a significant impact in your past part-time roles, your argument for requesting reduced hours should carry weight. After all, if a recruiter knows that you can produce the results in less time, giving them a chance to save money by offering you a pro-rata salary, it’s a win-win situation.
Part-time powers productivity
This leads to the point of being productive. Part-timers are very aware that their time is short which leads to them managing their time much better. According to a recent experiment run by Perpetual Guardian, employees who were given an extra day off a week were 20% more productive and much happier. They found that job and life satisfaction increased on all levels, creating an atmosphere where employees performed better because they simply enjoyed their jobs more than before the experiment began. Research carried out by the University of Melbourne also found that working part-time (between 25-30 hours a week) improved the cognitive function of people aged 40 and over. The study suggests that increasing the balance between work and life can improve your capacity to take on more complex or detailed projects.
Working part-time gives you the freedom to focus on getting work done, not waiting for the clock to run to 5.30pm. With the additional headspace outside of working hours, your mental health, sleeping pattern and motivation are likely to be better (which should make you a pleasure to work with!).
Part-time does NOT mean fewer rights
Let’s make things absolutely clear: working part-time affects your hours, not your rights. There are rules and regulations in place that protect part-timers from being treated less favourably than full-time employees. If you’re ever worried about your entitlements, take a look at the UK Governments workers’ rights page.
The important thing to remember is that the law protects you. Working part-time does not mean that you have less say than a full-time employee, or that you should be treated differently in any way. It’s simply a reflection of the number of hours you work. So if you’re ever in doubt and feel that your hours are having an impact on the way that you’re treated, everything you need to know is right here.
Career shifters: Dip your toes in the water first
There are plenty of people who are trying to shift into the charity sector but don’t quite know where to start. Working part-time is ideal for those who want to test new roles to understand whether it is the right career path for them. As we mentioned before, taking on a part-time job won’t reduce your level of responsibility, but it will give you more time to adjust to the many changes. Switching jobs is one thing, but moving sectors will be a complete culture change.
This will give you an opportunity to adjust to the many differences in approach to work, team dynamics and much more. Once you have a better idea of how the charity sector works and the new role that you play within your organisation, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether you want to go for a full-time role.
You might find that the role is right for you, but there’s another cause that your more passionate about and choose to work for a different charity. Whatever the outcome is, starting with a part-time commitment will allow you to transition into the sector gradually.
Whether you’re eager to develop a meaningful career, trying to take your first step into the charity sector or generally concerned about your rights, there is nothing about working part-time that will hold you back.
The quality of your work is a reflection of your ability. Not the hours you work. So yes, part-time work can definitely work!