Going part time – is it a career killer?

Sadly, there is an old myth that working mothers and other part time employees are less ambitious than full time workers. This myth leads to the bias that sees part time workers being overlooked for promotions and professional development opportunities, while full time employees get the big client jobs and registrations on courses and conferences.

As the nature of the workforce changes, flexible work options are being sought by everyone, not just working mums. Dads, grandparents, carers of elderly parents, people going back to study, sportspeople and people wanting more balance in general are opting for part time work. These people include the most skilled, experienced and career-driven people in your workforce. The younger generation, particularly, will expect workplaces to offer more flexibility.

Many companies now offer a suite of flexible working options, however this needs to be mirrored with a commitment to offering equal career opportunities. Your top performers will not stick around if decreasing their hours means decreasing their career options. This calls for greater workforce planning by managers so that part time employees have the chance to work on major projects and attend professional development sessions.

There is no good reason why going part time should be pronounce the end of anyone’s career. In your organisation, do you value your part time employees? Or perhaps it is better to ask: can you afford not to?