Finding the Flexibility in Top Jobs
With over 5 million people in the UK now choosing to work part time in their career, pursuing a goal of a flexible, but high earning, role is now a slightly easier task.
Chief executives, finance directors and senior lawyers are among those opting for part-time hours, turning traditional employment concepts on their head. It is now more acceptable for those in senior positions to request flexibility in their roles, although the extent of their hours is not always publicised to the rest of the workforce.
While the impact of flexible working for parents continues to be felt, it is not just working mums that are causing the shift. Karen Mattison MBE, the co-founder of Timewise, a recruitment service specialising in skilled part-time positions, explains: “Thirty per cent of our candidates are not mothers, and this figure is growing. They are dads, high-earners who can live on a reduced salary. There are lots of different groups of people who might want to work part-time. Having children is just one of the reasons.”
“Some people are taking part-time careers because they want to set up their own business, go freelance, or need time to care for elderly relatives, and for some, it is a lifestyle choice,” says Ms Mattison. “People feel like they would prefer to have the time than the extra 25 per cent of salary.”
The recession has also had an impact, with employers turning to senior workers to cut costs by going part time. This has made going part time more accessible, and lets businesses find the benefits of part time workers. As Ms Mattison continues, “It enables employers to retain their senior staff. Growing businesses, or those cutting costs, can still access high-level talents on a part-time basis, which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.”
However, those part timers might not want the rest of the staff to know their working hours in detail. According to a Timewise study, more than a third would never use the word “part-time” to describe their work pattern and one in seven prefers to let colleagues assume that they work full time. The negative connotations of ‘part time’ for colleagues, clients and customers can often mean that the employee doesn’t feel that they are taken as seriously as full timers, and can leave clients feeling 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 can create more opportunities for those in the roles to pursue career change, looking at their own lifestyle, mentoring school leavers and much more, while allowing the businesses themselves to benefit from knowledge and experience with a reduction in cost.