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A Plea For Meaningful Part-Time Work

by Beth on April 8th, 2014

According to the Gallup World Poll, people who voluntarily work part-time are happier, less stressed, and have higher job satisfaction than other employees. Obviously, not everyone can afford to work part-time. But for many people, especially working mothers, the opportunity for meaningful part-time work can be the difference between staying in the workforce and quitting.

Sixty percent of all working mothers would prefer to work part-time, but only twenty-four percent have part-time jobs. Thirty-three percent of mothers who do not work outside the home would like to be working part-time, but can’t find suitable positions.

The problem is that there aren’t enough good part-time positions available. I have surveyed and interviewed over 1,000 women and many of them told me that when they moved into part-time positions the work they were doing was no longer important or interesting. They also said that their opportunities for advancement were significantly reduced, if not eliminated.

The consulting firm Deloitte has created what they call mass career customization, which allows their employees to adjust their workload as they progress through their careers and face changing life circumstances. Employees may advance more slowly when they reduce their workload, but they are still performing meaningful work and they remain on track with their careers.

Other companies are also working to figure out how to divide traditional jobs into chunks of high-impact work that can be done by employees on a part-time basis. It takes creativity to think about how tasks can be rearranged into meaningful part-time work. But smart companies realize it is a worthwhile exercise. Too much talent is being lost due to inflexible structures and outdated work norms. Organizations must find ways to give women the opportunity to adjust their workloads so that they can continue their careers while also meeting personal demands.

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