Sunday, July 07, 2013

Are we overlooking the obvious? Use part-time positions to supercharge your recruiting

We spend a lot of time trying to come up with creative approaches to reach qualified candidates:

In-your-face advertising.

Search engine optimization.

Social media.


Good for us.  We should always be looking at ways of streamlining human resource matching.

But like assessment (interview questions should be high fidelity? WAH?), sometimes we leave some good stuff behind when we blaze into the future.

Exhibit A: Work schedules.  In my experience (primarily public sector), this is one of the last bastions of stubbornness for many hiring supervisors.  They'll consider more modern solutions like telecommuting and BYOD before reducing a full-time position to part-time.  There's something burned into their brains that their employees MUST be there 8-5.

And yet...and yet...this small decision may be having the single largest negative impact on their recruiting success.  Why?  Because of the large number of qualified candidates they're missing out on.

Whenever we do recruiting surveys, work/life balance is at or near the top, particularly for cognitively demanding jobs (e.g., attorney).  What does this phrase mean to people?  From the conversations I've had with folks, 99% of the time they mean fewer working hours.  And it's not just job-hunters.  In fact, at least one study found that 20% of full-time workers would prefer to be part-time.  Another study found that 47% of mothers prefer part-time work.

There's even evidence that organizations get more bang for their buck with part-time employees.  And it's not just a single study.  Here's another one.

Why?  Could be employees are thankful for the arrangement and are more engaged.  Could be they feel guilty (or protective) and work hard to keep their schedule.

Not to mention the fact that many people continue working even after they've left the physical work site (whether they should be or not), the fact that productivity and safety practices in many jobs is temporally uneven and may drop off curvilinearly with longer hours, and you really start to blur the lines of "paying for time".  In fact, absent jobs that are directly tied to hours worked (e.g., production, reception), for many jobs paying people for the number of hours they work is positively...archaic.  Scott Adams captured the insanity perfectly.

Oh, and did I mention that the same evidence regarding performance suggests employees with reduced work schedules may have higher job satisfaction?  And that it may increase your ability to retain skilled workers?  And if you can't compete on salary, compete on something people probably care about more--having enough time to live and enjoy their non-work lives.  Think about what it will do to your reputation as a destination employer!

Obviously this strategy isn't going to work in every situation.  But it's something that should always be considered when competing for talent.  And for those out there that still cling to notions of mandatory 40-hour weeks, consider opening your minds.  You, your organization, and your employees will be better for it.

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