I’ve been avidly reading the flurry of features in the national press over the last few days since the publication of recent data by Timewise. The business consultancy’s survey suggests that part-time working is increasingly more acceptable for high achievers and leaders in the corporate world, with a 5% increase this year in the number of employees earning £40K working part-time.
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This has to be good news for several reasons. Firstly, of course, it indicates that part-time working or job sharing works for both the employer and their employees, even at a senior level. Secondly it is becoming increasingly acceptable for high-achievers to state their desire for a work/life balance that means they don’t want to work long and anti-social hours. It also suggests that the options for parents, historically mothers, returning to work are widening. And finally it infers that employers are increasingly thinking outside the box when it comes to finding solutions to retaining top staff. (Two out of five managers surveyed by Timewise said they would consider taking on applicants for a senior role as part of a job share – hurrah!).
Does this mean that employers are finally waking up to the fact that monetary reward is not the be all and end all when it comes to attracting, motivating and engaging talent? Business behaviour specialist Daniel Pink has long stressed that traditional motivators may not be as effective as we think; and that the three intrinsic elements to motivation are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Offering and encouraging part-time working and job sharing at a senior level is surely a positive way of empowering talent, provided they are granted the autonomy to find the right working practices for them that enable them to succeed in their roles and fulfil the expectations their employers may have of them. Of course part-time working or job sharing also gives employees the time they may need in their lives to fulfil whatever purpose they wish to pursue, whether it be hands-on parenting or achieving other personal goals.
So what can we do as coaches to help encourage this trend?
I see one of my roles as a coach to prompt my clients to look at different perspectives, exploring and evaluating as many options as possible before deciding on the right course of action moving forwards. Perhaps executive coaching can help business leaders to consider the opportunities and benefits of allowing or even encouraging flexible working at senior levels, particularly when it involves empowering talent to propose solutions that work not only for themselves individually but also for the company as a whole.
As a mother myself, I know if I’d had the room to propose flexible working part-time or as a job-share on returning to work after maternity leave my motivation levels and loyalty would have gone through the roof!