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Helping Part-Time Employees Feel Like They Belong

| November 21, 2017
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There are many reasons why your company may employ part-time workers, such as meeting seasonal workflow demands or retaining employees who no longer work full-time. Yet, because part-time employees are not present throughout the entire workweek, they may not feel as integrated as full-time employees. Therefore, managers may need to make an extra effort to ensure that part-time employees feel like they belong. 

You may find that some of your current employees, especially those whose family circumstances have changed or those who want to return to school, may welcome the opportunity to reduce their schedules to part time. In some cases, it may make sense to allow two employees to share a single position. Whenever possible, however, present any transition from full-time to part-time work as an option, not as a requirement for employment. 

To avoid taking on new part-time employees who are dissatisfied with reduced hours, focus your recruiting efforts on those who expressly prefer a part-time schedule to a full-time commitment. However, interviewers should be advised to not ask job candidates directly about their family or personal circumstances, as this could lead to charges of discrimination. 

To make part-time positions more attractive, consider allowing workers to choose a flexible schedule, as appropriate. To avoid confusion or resentment among immediate co-workers, you may require part-time employees to consult with their managers regarding their schedule for a given period of time, and to commit to maintaining that schedule. In some cases, part-time workers may agree to be available outside of their regular schedule, in case of an emergency. 

Unless the job of a part-time employee is completely independent of the work performed by other staff members, try to keep part-timers informed of any developments that occur during their absence. Upon arrival at the workplace, a part-time worker can check in with a supervisor or another full-time employee who is aware of any issues. Also, include part-timers in any internal communications and meetings that are relevant to their responsibilities. 

Remember, part-time workers require the same training as full-time employees, as it applies to their positions. Failure to provide workers with proper training and clear explanations of work responsibilities can not only result in poor performance, but also lead to workplace injury or destruction of property. Where appropriate, consider asking a manager or a co-worker to act as a mentor to each part-time employee. 

Even if a part-time position is entry-level, these staff members can be encouraged to show initiative and, when possible, take on greater responsibility once it has been earned. If your company conducts performance reviews, be sure to include part-time employees in these appraisals, and keep records of their progress on file. By regularly reviewing the progress of all staff members, you may find, for example, that a student who starts out as a part-timer would be an excellent candidate for a full-time position after graduation. 

Depending on your company’s policies, part-time workers may or may not be given the same employee benefits as full-time employees. However, be sure part-time workers are included in all incentive and recognition programs, and invited to attend office parties and outings. Part-time employees may not be expected to be as loyal to an employer as a full-time worker, but they may feel more committed to an organization that, for example, allows them to earn bonuses or recognizes them for their special efforts. 

The contributions of part-time workers are valuable to your organization. Be sure to recognize the unique needs of part-time employees and help them feel that they belong. After all, employee satisfaction can lead to customer satisfaction, increased productivity, and reduced turnover.

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