managing part-time employees: how to get the most from your team

When managing part-time employees, it's important to maximise their skills and make them feel connected.

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Part-time employees play a crucial role in many organisations. In fact, recent research found part-time work is key to boosting economic growth in the UK.

With a quarter of British employees working part-time, companies that offer part-time positions open themselves up to more of the best talent. However, managing part-time employees requires a unique approach.

A survey by Timewise found that a high proportion of staff in part-time employment (65%) feel less connected to their team. Meanwhile, 59% are concerned that their skills and knowledge have fallen behind those of full-time employees. Therefore, managers of part-time team members must take steps to address these issues while providing tailored support. 

So, how can you do this? Below, we'll give you tips on how to manage your part-time staff effectively and suggest ways to bring flexibility to your workforce. 

1. start with clear communication

It’s important to establish open and transparent communication when managing part-time employees. As a manager, you or your part-time direct reports may be new to this arrangement, so it's essential that everyone's fully informed from the off.

The first step is to communicate expectations and workloads. Ensure you set clear goals, agree on these as soon as the part-time work begins, and review them at regular intervals if necessary. Certain job duties may require more hours than a part-timer can manage. In this case, you'll need to decide if pushing back deadlines or reallocating work to full-time staff will work best.

Always communicate any changes so your part-time workers are up to date with new expectations and every team member has a mutual understanding of what they need to do.

As work gets underway, it's your role as manager to ensure that employees receive relevant and timely information and feel part of a team. Set up regular meetings for this communication. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Hold team meetings on days and times when everyone is working.
  • If a part-time staff member can't attend a meeting, set up a way to share an update with them, such as an email or phone call.
  • Consider setting up an online space for discussion and sharing.
  • Put regular one-to-ones in the diary between you and your part-time direct report. 

If your team is mostly part-time or remote, consider asking them for their input on the best protocols around communication. In fact, asking all your team members to feed back in this way can help them feel more engaged as they establish ways of working as a team.

2. keep flexibility in mind

Part-time employees are often attracted to these roles because of the flexibility they offer, not because they don't want to work. Therefore, you should ensure that you offer the benefits that cater to their individual needs. These might include: 

  • Flexible working hours  
  • Core working hours (with flexibility around those times)  
  • Hybrid working structures  
  • Remote working packages  
  • Job sharing for part-time employees  
  • Freelance contracts (ensure there is a fixed freelance salary, regardless of gender) 

Having these available can ease employees' nerves. They know that if something changes in their personal lives, they can still find an option that'll allow them to work to the best of their ability without having to take on unmanageable workloads or look for another job.

As a manager of part-time staff, it's important to note that not all part-time work setups are alike. Take time to understand your part-timer's working pattern so you can factor it into your communications. For example, you may not be able to get the whole team together if your part-timers are job-sharing and should therefore schedule regular updates so that everyone is on the same page.

3. consider their work-life balance

Part-time employees often juggle multiple other commitments and responsibilities outside of work.

Encourage a healthy work-life balance by respecting their time off and rest days. Avoid overburdening them with excessive workloads or workloads of a full-time staff member. When employees have time for their personal lives and can recharge, they’re more likely to bring their best to the job.

Part-time employees may be working reduced hours for several reasons, including:

  • Returning to work after children – or other kinds of breaks (you can read more about returning to work here)  
  • Problems with childcare  
  • Health issues that prevent full-time working  
  • Mental health struggles  
  • Or they may have a part-time job at another company, meaning they effectively work full-time. In this case, extra hours spent working for your company could impinge on free time or time they have dedicated to another business.

Creating an open dialogue means they feel safer approaching you with potential issues. Being aware of any problems can help you navigate them together.

If you’d like to learn how to do this for yourself, read our article on how to establish a better work-life balance.

4. optimise technology and tools

Technology can be vital when managing your part-time employees. If you have a hybrid work system in place, part-time staff may spend more time working remotely than in the office. Ensure they have access to the necessary software, hardware, and resources. 

It may be that your part-time team works best when you establish a clear schedule. Online software can help here, as employees can access this easily even if they're not in the office. Many managers use scheduling and shift-planning tools to clarify who is working and when.
Alternatively, your team may comprise part-timers with a range of skill sets. If a project that requires multiple roles is in the works, a resource management tool could help everyone work more efficiently, as no one's workflow will be impeded by a skills-time gap.

Even if your projects allow your team to work individually, you'll find your part-time employees are highly motivated if you invest in software or tools that help them engage or learn from others. There are plenty of team communication tools out there: experiment with free trials and establish which works best for you as a team.

Lastly, part-time employees may identify a need for a tool you have yet to spot. As a manager, try to establish a feedback loop to understand where someone may need additional support and, if possible, research appropriate tools to help. I've gone full ham expanding this section here - getting terms in. 

5. establish inclusivity and team building

Part-time employees can sometimes feel isolated from the full-time team. After all, your full-time colleagues are still networking and developing their skills on the job when the part-time workers aren't around. This goes beyond simply continuing tasks in their absence (for which you'll need to inform your part-time employees on the status of projects): time spent working together brings unity, develops company culture, and can help learning and creativity. 

Foster a sense of belonging by including part-timers in team activities, meetings, and social gatherings. This means being as accommodating as possible and sometimes thinking outside of the box:

  • If your full-time employees have remote working days, try to align these with your part-time employees' remote working hours so that each team member is connecting through the same tools at the same time.
  • Equally, if your part-time employee works mainly in the office, try scheduling any hybrid workers to be there on those days to maximise their time together.
  • Instigate team-building activities so that your part-timers have more opportunity to bond or share their point of view.
  • Arrange social gatherings around what suits your part-time employees: after all, the full-time workers are getting to bond with one another more in their day-to-day work life. 

Finally, encourage your full-time employees to collaborate with part-timers and seek their input. Building a strong team dynamic can boost morale and encourage greater commitment.

If you want to ensure a cohesive team, read our article on building positive relationships at work. Alternatively, check out our article on leadership skills to learn more about how to lead your team effectively.

part-time workers: establishing a fully functioning team

Managing part-time employees requires a thoughtful approach focusing on clear communication, flexibility, and recognition. When part-time team members feel valued, engaged, and supported, they are more likely to be productive and committed. By implementing these strategies, you can create a positive work environment that benefits your part-time employees and your organisation.

If you’re a past or present member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) and you would like additional support with managing part-time staff, contact us now for advice.

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