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Are we heading into a recession, or aren’t we? Can the Fed pull off a soft landing? Are all the layoffs we keep reading about in the tech sector a sign of worse things to come in other industries? Or are these companies just adjusting from the over-hiring mistakes made during Covid? Depending on who you listen to or what you read, you will probably get different answers to these questions. Consequently, we are in a period of heightened uncertainty. And uncertainty is not good for businesses, especially small businesses which have less of a financial cushion than their larger counterparts. During these times of variability, we see businesses pull back from hiring, which often leads to reduced growth. The dilemma is how to invest conservatively without stifling growth during unpredictable times. Part-time could be the answer.

A better hiring strategy

While delaying hires until you have more data might seem like the safest choice, it may not be the best one for your business. A better hiring strategy is to tap into the professional, part-time talent pool. You can gain access to the kinds of dedicated and affordable talent that the business needs to grow without having to make a significant investment in overhead. In addition, this will better position you to attract new hires, both full and part-time, when strong economic conditions prevail.

Back in 2010, an uncertain economy also dominated the news. At that time, most businesses did not have part-time or remote work options in their company vocabulary. However, the ones that did learn that if they embraced a part-time work model, they gained access to a largely untapped talent pool of experienced and affordable resources. This includes the thousands of professionals who want to return to the workforce after a career break. Or the growing number of full-time workers who need to scale back their hours to remain in the workforce (i.e., moms, baby boomers, caregivers, etc.). The common denominator among these skilled professionals? They all value part-time schedules and a flexible culture and will prioritize that over compensation and benefits.

Part-time testimonials

Michael Thompson, Co-Founder and VP of Sales & Strategy at Sky Data Vault recently summarized his company’s experience in hiring several part-time employees over the past few years, sharing “Working with Flex Professionals and hiring part-time has allowed us to find top quality candidates that we might not have attracted had we limited ourselves to only full-time hiring. We have been amazed by the level of dedication and efficiency that our part-time hires have given us and the speed at which we can expand our workforce. It’s helped our company become more productive to keep pace with our growth without making a huge investment.”

For as little as 10 hours or as much as 32 hours per week, we have seen companies successfully hire part-time professionals in areas that some thought couldn’t be done in a reduced workweek, including sales and business development, project and contracts management, marketing, finance, legal, operations, HR, and more.

“We’ve seen such value from the part-time candidates we have hired through FlexProfessionals. They are extremely qualified and eager to find a meaningful role that can accommodate their work-life balance requirements. Working with the staff at FlexProfessionals, Evolver’s expectations have consistently been exceeded by the quality of candidates and the affordability of the process. It is a win-win-win for Evolver, the candidates, and FlexProfessionals,” shares Mike O’Kane, Founder Evolver.

Benefits of embracing the part-time model

Companies like Evolver which embraced the part-time work model over a decade ago were the ones better positioned to ramp up hiring once economic certainty finally arrived. They were also the companies that grew faster as the economy began to flourish. As we find ourselves in another period of economic uncertainty, tapping into the part-time workforce can be a smart strategy for keeping overhead low. It also helps you to attract the talent you might not otherwise be able to afford, maximizing your overall value for new hires. While there are plenty of professional jobseekers who would love part-time or flexible work and would be grateful for the opportunity, it will be your business that will benefit the most.

The reduced investment associated with part-time hires (hourly or permanent) is not the only reason for adding part-time to your overall hiring strategy. We have worked with over a thousand businesses over the last 14 years and below are just a few of the other reasons why our clients are opting for part-time:

Reason #1: You cannot justify 40 hours

You have a real need but can’t justify a full-time employee until you win that contract or land a new account. Of course, if you had more help, maybe you would have a better chance of winning that contract or landing that new account! Hire a temp? Maybe. But do they have the expertise and experience you need? Hire a consultant? Sure. But that consultant is not always dedicated solely to your business, and consulting rates can be high.

Solution? Consider those skilled and experienced professionals that are available and eager to contribute if only there was a part-time role that would meet their needs. As more baby boomers grow closer to retirement and an increasing number of professional women feel that part-time is the ideal situation for them and their families, take advantage of this talented pool of people that are not seeking 40 hours a week but have the experience and skill sets that can help take your company to a whole new level.

Reason #2: You have a limited budget

You may have the workload to justify 20 employees but the budget for only five or six. Many of our job seekers are willing to give up some percentage of their salaries in exchange for a reduced work schedule if the work is meaningful and the environment fosters a positive and flexible work culture. The benefit of part-time hours to many job seekers is viewed as part of the entire compensation package. So, despite one’s experience level, you will find those job seekers in search of part-time opportunities choose to work at competitive rates that are not associated with more traditional, full-time work.

Reason #3: You want the ability to attract an experienced resource

No matter what the state of the economy, really good talent is always in demand. As a small business, how can you attract that experienced CPA, the MBA with 10 years at Booz Allen or HP, or that person who helped grow a grass-roots organization into a thriving non-profit? Can you offer what the big guys do, not only in salary but benefits, perks, training, development, etc.? A way to distinguish yourself is to offer flexibility that the candidate might not find anywhere else.

Figure out what they are really looking for and see if you can find a way to make it work within your organization. This is one strategy you can use to attract a level of education and/or experience that you might not have otherwise. From my experience, the small companies that do this always get the best talent by far and the highest value from their hires.

Reason #4: You want to free up resources to focus on the strategic

As a business owner or manager, what if you could take 10-15 hours of work off your plate every week and hand it not to a recent graduate or intern, but to someone with 10 to 20 years of solid professional work experience looking to contribute but without the hours and stress of their previous high-powered career? The ability to delegate certain tasks (whether administrative, financial, business development, HR, etc.) to someone with as much if not more experience than yourself will confidently free you up to focus on the more strategic aspects of your business.

Part-time is not the answer for all of your hiring needs, but it certainly can be a smart strategy for keeping overhead low, attracting top talent within your budget, and maximizing your overall value for new hires. While there are plenty of professional jobseekers who would love part-time or flexible work and would be grateful for the opportunity, it will be your business that will benefit the most.