By using permanent part-timers, you can get more commitment than you'd get from a temp but more flexibility than you can expect from a nine-to-fiver. In some industries, such as fast food, retail and other businesses that are open long hours, part-timers are essential to fill the odd hours during which workers are needed.
A traditional source of part-time employees is students. They typically are flexible, willing to work odd hours and do not require high wages. High school and college kids like employers who let them fit their work schedule to the changing demands of school.
Although students are ideal for many situations, there are potential drawbacks to be aware of. For one thing, a student's academic or social demands may impinge on their scheduling needs. Some students feel that a manicure or a tennis game is reason enough to change their work schedules.
You'll need to be firm and set some standards for what is and is not acceptable. Some colleges encourage students to work, for a small stipend or even for free, through internship programs.
Does your tiny one-person office have anything to offer an intern? Actually, small companies offer better learning experiences for interns since they typically involve a greater variety of job tasks and offer a chance to work more closely with senior employers.
Routine secretarial or "gofer" work won't get you an intern in many cases. Colleges expect their interns to learn specialized professional skills. Hold up your end of the bargain by providing meaningful work. Can you delegate a direct-mail campaign? Have an intern help on photo shoots? Ask her to put together a client presentation?
Students are not the only part-timers in town. One often-overlooked source of employees is retired people. Often, seniors are looking for a way to earn some extra money or fill their days. Many of these people have years of valuable business experience that could be a boon to your company.
Seniors offer many of the advantages of other part-time employees without the flakiness that sometimes characterizes younger workers. They especially have an excellent work ethic and can add a note of stability to your organization. If a lot of your customers are seniors, they may prefer dealing with employees their own age.
Parents of young children, too, offer a qualified pool of potential part-time workers. Many stay-at-home moms and dads welcome the chance to get out of the house for a few hours a day. Often, these workers are highly skilled and experienced.