It is easy to come up with reasons why people would want the ‘perk’ of a flexible or part-time job. For those raising children, caring for an elderly parent, or even soon-to-be retirees who want to cut back yet still remain engaged, meaningful part-time opportunities can be the ideal situation for professionals in search of some balance between personal obligations and work.

However what is frequently overlooked, besides the obvious fact that happier workers typically lead to higher productivity and reduced turnover, is the reality that considering a part-time or flexible hiring approach for new positions is a way to unlock additional company value.  Indeed, when you strategically evaluate each new role and assess the best way to structure a job (full-time vs. part-time), you ensure that you are maximizing the effectiveness of every new hire.

Here are just some of the top business reasons that smaller companies are opting for part-time hires:

  1. Cannot justify 40 hours: You have a real need but can’t justify a full-time employee until you win that contract or land a new account. Of course if you had more help, maybe you would have a better chance of winning that contract or landing that new account! Hire a temp? Maybe, but do they have the expertise and experience you need?  Hire a consultant? Sure, but that consultant is not always dedicated solely to your business and consulting rates can be sky-high. Solution? Consider those skilled and experienced professionals that are available and eager to contribute if only there were a part-time or flexible role that would meet their needs.  As more baby-boomers grow closer to retirement and an increasing number of professional women feel that part-time is the ideal situation for them and their families, take advantage of this talented pool of people that are not seeking 40 hours a week but have the experience and skill sets that can help take your company to a whole new level.
  2. Limited budget: You may have the workload to justify 20 employees but the budget for only five or six. According to a 2013 Workplace Flexibility Survey from Mom Corps, 45% of workers would be willing to give up some percentage of their salaries in exchange for more workplace flexibility. Flexibility is viewed as part of the entire compensation package. So, despite one’s experience level, you will find that job seekers in search of flexible or part-time opportunities will work at very competitive rates. It is a great way to bring in strong and experienced talent without making a huge investment.
  3. Ability to attract a more experienced resource: No matter what the state of economy, really good talent is always in demand. As a small business, how can you attract that experienced CPA, the MBA with 10 years at a Booz Allen or HP, or that person who helped grow a grass-roots organization into a thriving non-profit? Can you offer what the big guys do, not only in salary, but benefits, perks, training & development, etc?  A way to distinguish yourself is to offer the flexibility that the candidate might not find anywhere else.  Figure out what they are really looking for and see if you can find a way to make it work within your organization. This is one strategy you can use to attract a level of education and/or experience that you might not otherwise. From my experience, the small companies that do this always get the best talent by far, and the highest value from their hires.
  4. Free up resources to focus on the strategic: As a business owner or manager, what if you could take 10-15 hours of work off your plate every week and hand it not to a recent graduate or intern, but to someone with 10 to 20 years of solid professional work experience looking to contribute but without the hours and stress of their previous high-powered career? The ability to delegate certain tasks (whether administrative, financial, business development, HR, etc.) to someone with as much if not more experience than yourself will confidently free you up to focus on the more strategic aspects of your business.

Part-time is not the answer for all of your hiring needs, but it certainly can be a smart strategy for keeping overhead low, attracting talent you might not otherwise be able to afford, and maximizing your overall value for new hires.  While there are plenty of professional job-seekers who would love part-time or flexible work and would be grateful for the opportunity, it will be your business that will benefit the most.

photo credit: istockphoto.com