More than 6 million people in the UK now choose to work part time in their career. A flexible, yet high-earning role is much easier to achieve these days.
Overturning traditional employment concepts, CEO’s, senior lawyers, directors of finance and others are choosing to go part time. It is becoming more normal for senior management to expect flexibility. Although often the extent of that flexibility is not publicised to their colleagues or outside the organisation.
Flexible working for mums has been evident in the economy for many years. But the shift in working patterns is not just working mums these days. Karen Mattison MBE, the founder of Timewise, a recruitment service specialising in part-time skilled jobs, says: “More than a third of our candidates are not mothers, and that figure is growing. Many are fathers, high-earning individuals who can survive comfortably with a reduction in salary”.
“Having children is just one of the reasons people may decide to work part-time. Some want to found their own business, go freelance, or need time to care for elderly relatives. For some, it is a lifestyle choice,” says Ms Mattison. “People are willing to forego the extra 25 per cent of salary. They would prefer to enjoy the time.”
The Covid 19 pandemic has also had an effect. Senior workers have been asked to go part time by employers trying to reduce costs. This has made it easier for these workers to make the change they were already considering. And it has allowed businesses to reap the benefits of cost reductions.
Ms Mattison expands: “It enables employers to retain their senior staff in tough times. Growing or cost-cutting businesses can still access high-level talent on a part-time basis, which otherwise would be unaffordable.”
However, those part-timers might prefer that their colleagues do not know their situation. According to a recent study, around a third would not use the word “part-time” to describe their work and 15% prefer to let their fellow workers believe that they are still full time, working from home. Employees can feel that they are not taken as seriously as full-timers and that this has negative connotations. The suggestion of ‘part time’ can mean that clients feel that their needs aren’t being met 24/7.
But times are changing, and businesses are seeing the benefits of part time roles, particularly in senior positions. This creates opportunities for some to pursue a complete career change or go freelance. They can reflect on their lifestyle and work/life balance or mentor young ones and school leavers. At the same time, they can allow the businesses to benefit from their knowledge and experience whilst reducing costs.