Think HBR

Making the most of your part time workforce

Rosalind Loxton
Work-life balance is something more and more employees are thinking about and prioritising, therefore those making the decisions regarding work arrangements need to understand that providing flexible options will enhance performance and productivity and promote loyalty. Those companies who fail to see the importance of this could find themselves losing their top talent.
The most recent Randstad World of Work Report shows that Australian employees are wanting to access flexible working arrangements. Most respondents shared that they would ideally like to work 70% in the office/onsite and 30% remotely. 41% of employees believe that workplace flexibility boosts employee engagement and satisfaction.
Whilst flexible working arrangements and work/life balance are opportunities sought by many demographics of workers, they particularly benefit women who are seeking to continue their career, whilst simultaneously being present for their family. Many women in this position are wanting the opportunity to continue at their current level of employment and even move their career forward, but not work traditional full time hours. The benefits to the organisation of offering flexible working arrangements to women in this position are, greater retention of talent and experience, employees who are more likely to be engaged with their workplace, more women in senior roles and attraction and retention of senior executives.
However, flexible working arrangements are not for women only, plenty of men are also realising the benefits of an improved work life balance.
Flexible working in "hi vis" industries may not be as widespread, however there is no reason that flexibility cannot be explored in this area. Some organisations can find implementing flexible work arrangements challenging in the first instance, with operational and safety requirements limiting the number of practical options. Employment in this industry often requires travel to remote locations where projects operate on a 24/7 basis with strict health and safety rules impacting employee movements.
Earlier this year, The Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA), released its "Guide to Flexible Work" to coincide with International Women's Day. The guide aims to assist the mining, oil and gas and related construction sector employers increase their workforce gender diversity.
The report outlines 13 ways Industry can introduce flexibility into their workplace including;
• Part-time work
• Reduced hours
• Casual employment
• Job sharing
• Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
• Working on location | away from home
• Telecommuting | teleworking
• Compressed working hours
• Flexible working hours
• Purchased leave
• Expanded leave
• Shift work
• Phased retirement
Job sharing is an example arrangement that can be applied to onsite and office locations. It generally involves two employees sharing the duties of one role. It can be an excellent option if the employees have slightly different skillsets that will bring different strengths to the role. The arrangements can be made in many different ways, including working alternate days or weeks, depending on what is most suitable to all involved.
The benefits that this arrangement can provide to an organisation are numerous, including maintaining continuity of work, collaboration of two peoples ideas and skills for better performance, sharing of peak workloads and the ability to attract skilled and experienced employees who cannot commit to a full time role.
Of course not all flexible working arrangements will suit every organisation or employee. Options must be assessed against the business needs and ability to accommodate the arrangements – but the mindset that “we can’t do flexible” needs to be challenged and sometimes organisations need to think outside the box. It has been found that those who seek flexibility in the workplace can often be stalled by leaders who find it difficult to change their views about the value of flexible work.
If Australian companies want to remain competitive, retain top talent, improve job satisfaction and prosper in good time and bad – looking at introducing a culture that accepts flexible working arrangements will put them in good stead.
For further information contact performHR on 1300 406 005, email or visit
Rosalind Loxton Rosalind Loxton
is an HR Business Partner at performHR. She has 10 years’ experience working as a HR Generalist as an in-house HR Manager. She worked in the construction industry where she dealt with a variety of complex employment and payroll issues.
During this time she recognised her preference was helping to solve people’s problems, so when the time was right, she actively sought a consulting role. Ros assists clients with workplace investigations, enterprise bargaining, award interpretation, performance management and restructures to name a few of her extensive skill areas.