September 18, 2013
Need more time? Consider cutting your work hours
Are you struggling to juggle life and a 40-hour work week? It may be time to approach your management and HR department about reduced hours. Here's how.
Make it a solid value proposition. How is it going to help the company? While employee satisfaction is important to any employer, the bottom line is what drives business decisions. How will you be saving the company money and not overtaxing your colleagues?
Be specific. Whether you are proposing a temporary or permanent schedule, provide as much information as possible. If your proposal is for a limited time, spell it out, and include any coverage for your duties while you're out. If you are looking for a permanent change in hours, cite examples of other successful part-time positions in your company, or a case study in your industry highlighting the advantages.
As a recruiter, I've seen advantages of flexible schedules. One of my colleagues recently returned from parental leave, and she and one of our other team members have chosen part-time schedules. They both work four days a week; one works four full days, while the other works five hours a day.
Both of them have team members who can help pick up any additional work that may come in on their "off" hours. Both have also made it clear that if there is a pressing issue on their "off" days, they are more than happy to take a phone call.
Last year, I hired someone at an 80 percent schedule for the first four months of his tenure. He was committed to coaching his daughter's soccer team and had to be out the door by 3 p.m.
From the employer side, the CEO of a local startup recently asked me how he could make sure that the organization's hiring cycles were smart and that he didn't overhire. I suggested that he ask employees if they would be willing to consider changes in schedules, with reduced hours during down time.
If you give employees enough notice to do some planning, it's amazing how many would gladly give up a percentage of their pay on a short-term basis in exchange for some more free time. We all have projects in our lives that we would love to devote extra time to, but it isn't always possible. With changes in the health-care system on the horizon, this option may become logistically much more feasible for many workers and their families.
Some employers are not open to such ideas. If that is the case for you, you may need to consider changing jobs. Here are some of the larger industries that tend to offer part-time hours:
• Health care
• Broadcasting (radio and television)
• Customer service
Another option is to start your own business or begin consulting. Do your homework first, however, to make sure you are not getting yourself into a position where you end up working more for less.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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