The number of part-time jobs in the United States has generally increased over the past couple of decades. As of June 2022, there were approximately 25 million part-time workers. Although some part-time employees would prefer a full-time position, many people choose to work fewer than 40 hours per week.
Employing part-timers can provide financial and operational benefits to your company. But before you start hiring new workers or convert full-time positions to part-time jobs, make sure you weigh both possible benefits and pitfalls
The key advantage for employers to hire part-timers is flexibility. This can play out in several ways:
Employee benefits. For many employers, the primary benefit of using part-timers is that these workers generally aren’t eligible for employee benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings plans. Smaller businesses, in particular, can have trouble affording such benefits, which typically constitute as much as one-third of an employer’s payroll. So, if you pay a full-time worker $60,000 a year, it likely costs another $30,000 to provide benefits. You might be able to hire a part-time worker with that $30,000.
But state laws regarding employee benefits vary. So be sure to consult professional advisors before you scrap full-time positions and replace them with part-time jobs.
Scheduling. Generally, full-time employees prefer 9-to-5-type schedules. But part-timers — especially students or people with multiple jobs — are often more flexible and willing to work evenings or weekends. Part-timers can help you fill the gaps in shift work. A former full-time employee with a newborn may need to start working half days, but a part-time retiree or college student could be available to fill in the other hours.
Skill and experience. Recent retirees can do more than help with scheduling. They often bring a wealth of talent and experience that are otherwise hard to find in part-time job candidates. These attributes aren’t necessarily limited to retirees, however. Depending on your business, you might find talent in consultants and independent contractors. And don’t overlook professors on sabbatical or former stay-at-home parents who want to ease their way back into the workforce.
Workload. Some businesses are experiencing greater demand as the economy recovers from the pandemic. If you’re ramping up production, you may need to hire new workers at a reasonable cost. Hiring part-timers can take some pressure off your full-time employees and even enable them to take time off.
The disadvantages of hiring part-timers may not be as obvious as the advantages. So, before you decide on a part-time workforce, consider the following pitfalls:
Lack of commitment. Part-time workers may be less dedicated to their jobs and less loyal to your company than full-timers. Hiring more part-timers could increase your turnover rates and raise the odds that you won’t have the workers you need when you need them.
Tenuous professional relationships. Part-timers spend less time with colleagues, customers, vendors and others associated with your business. Thus, they may not foster the same interpersonal connections or contribute as heavily to your corporate culture as full-time employees. To better integrate part-time workers, make sure you include them in team meetings and training sessions, and consider hosting more all-company get-togethers.
Reduced efficiency. Replacing full-timers with part-timers can be an efficiency tradeoff. With regular, predictable hours, full-time employees can better focus on their projects. Part-timers may lose time starting and stopping work and could miss deadlines more often.
More distractions. If part-timers have other jobs or are in school, they may find it difficult to concentrate on the work you give them. For example, a student with a term paper may decide to call in “sick.” Workers coming from other jobs might regularly arrive late because of transportation challenges or obsessively watch the clock to ensure they leave in time to get to the other job.
Before You Decide Ultimately, your business’s needs — including its industry, size and growth rate — will determine which advantages and disadvantages have the greatest weight. You also must consider the type of work those in your local workforce are seeking and whether union protections make hiring part-timers more expensive than anticipated. Talk with your financial and legal advisors before making any decisions.