Why you should hire part-time roles
How progressive companies are using flexible arrangements to grow smarter
In this post-pandemic, remote world, it’s obvious the way we do work has changed. What’s not obvious is that the way we hire will have to change too. In just the last three years, we’ve had a revolution in work culture that rivals the dot com boom. Back then, tech culture wasn’t much different from typical corporate drudgery. Then companies like Google came along and flipped the notion of what work could look like. It forced other companies to rethink their company culture.
Fast forward 20 years and the pandemic has changed the narrative again. Yes, there’s been a massive shift to remote work. But the deeper underlying change brought about by remote work is the deep desire for true flexibility and work-life balance.
This massive cultural shift in the collective job force will mean that part-time employment will become more prevalent. If you hire in any capacity, “part-time employee” may have connotations of mediocre talent or dispassionate mercenaries swooping in and out of your company. But wielded correctly, part-time employees can be an extremely valuable tool in building a successful company. The hiring market is too fierce and talent is too important to be stuck in rigid, conventional ways of hiring.
In response, successful companies will adapt hiring practices to match the way employees want to work. Unsuccessful ones will be be left behind, struggling to find and retain top talent.
5 reasons why you should hire part-time roles.
- 🥊 Compete for talent: Workers want part-time roles, the demand is there.Offering part-time roles can be the competitive differentiation you need to get talent. It may also let you compete with companies with deeper pockets.
- 🎟 Access offline talent: Part-time roles can give you access to a part of the talent pool that may be off the market entirely otherwise. For example, many experienced workers who become parents, mothers especially, leave the workforce entirely because they want to spend more time with their kids. Others have completely sworn off the 9-5 entirely since #thegreatresignation. But a flexible arrangement with more limited hours could be just what they need to re-join the workforce. Most workers have not been given a good middle ground between working 40 hours or not working at all. You could provide that option.
- 🌉 Bridge the gap: Hiring cycles for full-time roles take a long time, especially for senior or leadership candidates. The opportunity cost for making the wrong full-time hire can be huge. But a quick, part-time hire can bridge the gap between full-time hires or after a key departure where the alternative is having no one filling the role. It’s an added bonus if this person ends up being great and becomes the full-time hire. Many companies have successfully hired interim part-time roles to steady the ship while looking for their long term leader.
- 🛠 Fill a skills gap: There may be a discrete skill that you need some expertise on in your company that doesn’t require a full-time employee. Hiring full-time may mean taking someone with one particular skill and having them be mediocre at other things. Instead, find an expert and pay them just for that expertise.
- 👖 Add slack: When a team consists solely of full-time employees all going at full capacity, you have very little slack in your system. You’re one resignation, parental leave, or illness away from a stressed out and maxed out team. With strategically placed part-time roles, it’s far easier to ramp up or down capacity as needed. For example, someone working 20 hours a week is much more likely to be able to quickly go to 30 hours than a full-time employee can add 10 hours.
- 💰 Save money: Pay only for what you need. If you don’t need someone in a full-time role, a part-time or contracted role may be far more economical. Work doesn’t always fit neatly into 40 hour/week boxes, so let your hiring and compensation reflect that.
In addition to hiring for part-time roles, offering part-time roles to full-time employees could be a valuable retention tool.
What does this look like in practice?
Here are 5 real stories of companies leveraging part-time to grow:
The Public Company Going Global
You’re the VP of Engineering at a public company that wants to go international. Your team lacks product localization expertise. You hire a Staff Engineer who has done product localization at other companies to a six month consulting contract. They are able to work with your engineering team to assess your tech stack, and help establish a plan to build a team, software, and process to localize your product. They open up their network to you and make introductions to help you find both contract and full-time hires who are interested specifically in localization work.
The Growth Stage Company with a Leadership Gap
You’re the CEO of a fast growing company. You have product-market fit and are ready to accelerate sales, but it’s clear your co-founder is not the sales leader to get you there. They leave the company and you’re in a tough spot with no sales expertise on your leadership team. You reach into your investor network and are able to get a quick referral to an established SVP of Sales who recently left their job after 8 years. They need a break from full-time work, but agreed to advise your company for equity. You get them in the seat quickly. They spend 10 hours/week on coaching calls, assess your GTM motions, and help you establish a job description for the next sales leader. After four months, they’ve stabilized the sales org and they help you hire a full-time Director of Sales to replace them.
The Early-Stage Startup Staying Afloat
You’re a seed stage startup founder along with a founding engineer, another generalist, and limited budget. You’re getting close to PMF but need to build and validate more before going to raise more funding. You don’t quite need a full time engineer, and having only six months of runway means you can’t spend two months trying to find a full-time employee. You reach out to an ex co-worker and senior engineer you respect. They need a full-time salary, but would moonlight 10 hours/week helping you with functionality they’ve built many times before. You pay them cash and equity and get them on board within a week of talking to them. They help you ship product, support your other engineer, and bridge the gap until you raise funding and start building out an engineering team. Eventually, the engineer decides to join the startup full-time after enjoying their experience.
The Overloaded Bootstrapper
You’re a successful bootstrapped solo founder. You want to build a great product and make a good living. You have no desire to manage people or have full-time employees, but you are drowning in support tickets, sales, marketing, and building. You recruit a friend who is in between jobs to help build some internal tools. They refer you to a support rep willing to answer support tickets for an hour every night. You’ve been able to delegate some of the least desirable parts of your job for a small percentage of your revenue and find your work much more sustainable.
The Mission-Focused, Cash-Strapped, Non-Profit
You're the Executive Director of a 10 person non-profit. You drive social good, but like most non-profits, your pocketbooks aren't deep. You need a few solid engineers to maintain and build your projects, but you can't afford the quality you're looking for. Rather than hire an expensive engineer full-time, you find someone who cares about your mission and is willing to take a paycut if they can have the flexibility to work three days a week. This is a win-win situation for both parties.
But there’s a catch…
In all these examples, you need to know the right people and have the right network to access this talent. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these types of networks. We’re working to fix that…
The mission of Part-Time Tech is to grow the part-time economy. If you're looking to be smarter about how you grow your business and leverage flexible working arrangements, fill out the form below.