Our amazing and successful consultant, Anna Ludeman, is everything that you could hope for in a team member. Here she sounds the call for greater flexibility in charities.
On my mission to find more opportunities for part time workers, there is a phrase that I hear time and time again -
'We will only consider someone part time if they are an exceptional candidate'.
I have nodded along and agreed with this statement for as long as I can remember, never giving it too much thought, until now.
Firstly, shouldn't all of our candidates that we are representing be exceptional in their own way?
Secondly, is this implying that they need to be better than someone looking for full time work to counter-act their need to work part time?
What a lot of pressure to put on someone's shoulders! To be considered for a role, does a part-time candidate needs to be better qualified than their full time counterparts? Do they need to prove that they will work harder and smarter in order to secure that new role?
I'm worried that this statement, however innocently spoken, can easily create discrimination against part-time employees and create unfair expectations. Excluding those candidates who are wonderful, dedicated, hard-working and talented but might not necessarily be head and shoulders above other candidates in the market or be able to work the same hours seems a little short-sighted. I have berated myself for nodding along to this for so many years and I am trying my best to push back on the high expectations that clients are putting on the shoulders of those who work part time.
Having such a lot of expectation and pressure on the shoulders of part-time workers is neither healthy nor productive. It leads to many individuals pushing themselves further, trying to prove their worth by working longer hours, taking on more projects and striving to achieve an un-realistic target to prove to their manager that they were worth the hire.
Instead, shouldn't we be open to all types of individuals who have the right experience for the role and support them to reach their full potential? Giving them the support they need to complete their duties, focusing on outcome instead of hours?
I appreciate that there are jobs out there that do require someone full time and making the role part-time just would not be feasible. However, I believe that there are always ways to create flexibility and in this instance, a job share might be the perfect solution. Similarly, an employer might reason that offering one person flexible working will open the floodgates to all which is unsustainable to a business. Allowing just one person flexible working might well cause issues which is why I believe flexibility for all is the key.
There are so many incredible individuals out there, working hard to make a living and managing a million other things outside of work hours. If we opened ourselves up to considering candidates on a part time basis, we'll have more of a diverse, interesting, fun and energetic team of people, all of whom are exceptional in their own way. Not to mention, the endless benefits of opening up a vacancy to a wider pool of candidates, increasing candidate engagement in your role and brand.
I am pleased to say that I have also experienced really flexible employers who are incredibly open to part time candidates. They believe that it is essential to find the right person who will add value to their organisation, someone who will drive change, bring fresh energy to the team and create initiative and inspiration. We've seen how well this can work with candidates juggling work and education, parenthood and even setting up their own businesses part time, all the while contributing invaluable experience to their organisation.
I work part-time myself and I was offered flexible working, not because I am an exceptional individual but because I am a normal person, able to prioritise well and do a good job in the time I have. I am hard-working, committed and passionate about the work I do but I don't believe that I'm a stand-out unique marvel in the recruitment sector. I feel valued as a person, not just a number.
I am lucky to work for a truly flexible employer who values a person's contribution above and beyond set targets. We have a mix of part and full-time employees who we're thrilled to have on board. We have exceptional relationship builders, 'blue sky thinking' influencers, support staff that are second to none and the most amazing social committee. Every person brings something special to the team which is endlessly appreciated.
By giving everyone the freedom and flexibility to be exceptional, we can see how far a team and organisation can really go.