Life Sciences Sector sees Rise of the Part Time Worker

Life Sciences Sector sees Rise of the Part Time Worker

It's named "part time". But you can forget any notion of part time referring to the scope of your career or the responsibilities you may have. You’re as likely to find a Chemical Engineer opting for part time hours as you are a Receptionist. In fact, according to a Kelly Services study one in five EU workers is employed on a part time basis. In key countries which Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices organisations have the greatest dependency, the figure is higher.

This figure highlights the rise in part time workers. Also, it highlights the growing acceptance by employers of finding a work pattern that will suit their workers. The idea of part time hours associates with women who are looking for flexible solutions to fit around family demands. While it’s true that close to a third of women across the EU are working part time, it’s becoming more commonplace for men to request fewer working hours.

Key to Retaining Talent

Employers are finally seeing the benefits of offering something other than the traditional 9-5. Trailblazers in the life sciences sector are embracing the potential for achieving greater retention. They're doing this through accommodating the growing desire of reducing their working week. Rather than seeing this change as a threat, they are looking at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to achieve greater business continuity by retaining their current workforce. This way, they retain the skills and experience. Plus, they’re also seeing a more engaged and motivated team of workers.

This increase in part time working is perhaps the first time we’ve seen a move away from dependence upon a full-time workforce. Especially within traditional knowledge-based industries like the pharma and medical devices sector. So, it does come with its challenges. The companies who navigate these issues smoothly, who actively support those who are looking for a part time career will reap the rewards.

Matching Career Expectations

Some EU workers have a legal right to request a flexible work pattern – including switching to part time hours. Organisations should be looking to accommodate a better work-life balance for their staff. In the UK, the ‘Right to Request’ flexible working states that you must have worked 26 weeks in the position before you can ask for flexible working. While this goes some way to meeting employees’ demands, employers need to do more to set up the option for part time work from the offset. For example, in occupations where there is an acute scarcity of skills – or where the sector does not hold the strongest value proposition. In future, employers may need to develop a new capability. This could allow them to advertise their need and let the worker select their preferred engagement option.

At present, few companies in the life sciences industry are using the appeal of part time working as a marketing tool. In fact, an analysis of online job ads in June 2018 that looked at 12 key roles within the pharmaceuticals and medical devices sector found that only 3% of them referenced part time working. Understanding that today’s workers are after something more than a full-time career is key. With this information, businesses can begin to match what they offer to what people want. By not doing so they may be losing out on prospective future stars of their workforce.

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