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4 Ways You Can Get Ready for a Part-Time Workforce Benefits, scheduling and communications are some of the things you should start thinking about now.

By Heather R. Huhman

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


With the rise of telecommuting, what constitutes a normal workday has begun to veer away from the traditional 9-to-5 model. But employees are pushing for even more change.

Related: This Is How Instacart Is Reclassifying Contract Workers as Part-Time Employees

A November 2015 RecruitiFi survey of 1,000 employees found that 37 percent of full-time workers are more likely to consider part-time schedules than in the past. One of the driving factors behind the shift is the value the workforce is placing on work/life balance, something respondents ranked higher than even compensation in the survey.

But in order to accommodate more part-time workers, employers need to start thinking now about the implications this scenario will have on their companies. The obvious complication of organizing schedules isn't the only challenge employers need be aware of. Here are four ways employers can prepare for the rise of the part-time work week.

1. Research which arrangements work best for employees and the organization.

Multiple options exist offering employees who want to cut back their hours ways to better manage their home lives. Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all flexible schedule to offer.

Before simply allowing employees to work fewer hours, research all options that could be considered and how each benefits everyone in the organization.

The 2015 WorldatWork Trends in Workplace Flexibility survey found that while 82 percent of the companies represented by the respondents offered part-time schedules, 52 percent did not offer a compressed work-week schedule and 79 percent didn't utilize job sharing.

As part-time employees begin to make up a larger portion of the workforce, more companies are going to have to take advantage of these types of programs. And the more types of part-time schedules that companies can incorporate into their workplaces, the better they'll be able to meet each employee's work/life needs.

2. Set communication boundaries.

In a 2014 Cornerstone survey of more than 2,000 employees, 26 percent reported having trouble "turning off" work mode during their personal time. Spending more time out of the office means that part-time employees will face more pressure -- or more temptation -- to return emails or phone calls when they're not working.

In order for wider part-time employment to work, however, organizations need to find ways to function with only a portion of their workforce in the office on any given day. Create, and stick to, communication plans that take everybody's schedules into consideration.

For example, if Mary works only Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she shouldn't be bombarded with emails on Tuesday. And her co-workers shouldn't waste time waiting for her to respond.

If an urgent matter does arise, companies should have a set time each day when part-time employees check their inbox or work phones to see if they're absolutely needed. By setting these boundaries, employees won't worry about work creeping into their family time, and employers can be confident that things will still run smoothly at the office.

Related: Why You Should Consider Cutting Overhead With Part-Time Employees

3. Provide benefit options employees want.

In Mercer's 2015 survey of more than 4,000 employees, respondents -- spanning the generations -- ranked benefits like help preparing for retirement and low cost health insurance as very important to them.

But for many employees, part-time employment means choosing between a better schedule or better benefits. In a 2015 SHRM survey of more than 450 HR professionals, 99 percent of respondents said their companies offered some kind of health insurance assistance to full-time employees. Only 30 percent said their companies offered these benefits to part-time employees.

If top-performing employees decide to switch to a part-time schedule, employers need to think about whether or not these workers' loss of certain benefits will affect their long-term retention. Consider an incremental benefits plan based on factors like years with the company or number of hours worked rather than whether an employee is simply full- or part-time.

For example, an employee who works more than 40 hours a week would be eligible for full health and dental coverage, while an employee who works 25 hours would have 60 percent of his or her health care covered by the company.

4. Be prepared to hire more employees.

If a portion of a company's workers cut their hours, it stands to reason that the company will have to hire more employees to ensure everything gets done. Before employees transition to part time, employers need to have trained counterparts waiting in the wings.

For companies already having trouble attracting talent, this may seem like a daunting task. Recruiting strategies will have to shift, focusing more on finding part-time employees. Also, these companies had best be prepared to hire quickly and confidently.

One option available is the crowdsourced hiring network, Huntclub. Huntclub connects users with a wide network of influencers that recruit top talent for them quickly. And one of the biggest perks of the platform is that it helps employers reach passive as well as active job seekers.

In addition to finding new part-time employees, organizations need to be able to engage them right off the bat, so they are as invested in their jobs as seasoned and full-time employees. Remember, part-time employees can't succeed if they feel like only a small part of the team.

Develop new ways, then, to onboard this type of employee so that he or she not only receives the requisite training but also feels connected with the rest of the company's workers.

What other concerns will companies need to address as more people decide to become part-time employees? Share in the comments below.

Related: 7 Musts to Make Part-Time Entrepreneurship Work for You

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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