Life can be a crazy journey of twists and turns, some of which we control and others we don’t. Whether you have small children, are helping to care for an aging parent, or you’re going back to school, certain circumstances make the logistics of working a full-time job tough. While working part-time is not an option for everyone, it might be a good solution for some, but only after carefully considering the pros and cons.
Pros of working part-time
Less stress: Less hours should equate to less work. Fewer work demands should equate to less stress. And less stress should help you be healthier. If your job is particularly chaotic and you need a break but don’t want to leave the profession or industry, working part-time can be a good way to cut back on those frazzled days. If you choose freelancing/consulting rather than working part-time for an organization, this can also mean being your own boss, including setting your hours and rates.
More free time: If you’re spending less time at work you have more time for personal pursuits. This is particularly advantageous for parents who desire to spend more time with their kids but don’t want to completely give up their career. However, even if you don’t have children, this additional free time is beneficial for myriad things, including fitness, personal hobbies, volunteering and more. Many people use going part-time as a way to ease into retirement, too.
Cost savings: Working less typically means bringing in a smaller paycheck, which is the top consideration before cutting back hours. However, it’s not the only financial consideration. There are some cost savings to consider that at least partially offset the salary reduction. Fewer childcare costs, fewer transportation expenses (fuel, parking, car maintenance, insurance) and even things like eating out less for work lunches can have a big impact.
Potential career growth: When done strategically, taking a part-time job may actually benefit your career if you consider your long-term goals. For example, if you take a part-time job in a department or area where you’d like to gain experience, you can open up future opportunities that are either currently not available or you do not qualify for. This allows you to build your skill set, boost your personal brand and make important networking connections.
Productivity can soar: Whether it’s reduced stress, fewer hours making focus a necessity, or something truly magical, many times professionals who work fewer hours are actually more productive with the time they have. One study even found people who work 35 hours a week are half as productive as those who work 20. Is it possible you’ll get more done working part-time than you do full-time? Potentially.
Cons of working part-time
Less money: The biggest drawback to working part-time is typically a smaller paycheck. For some people, this isn’t a deal breaker, but for others it simply doesn’t make sense financially.
Loss of benefits: Of course your salary is only one part of compensation. Paid time off, health insurance and retirement benefits are often reserved for full-time employees only. If you cut your hours, you may not receive these important benefits. Check with HR to see what hours qualify for these perks. If an employee is considered full-time at 30 hours per week and may receive benefits, that could allow you to cut down hours a bit.
Stunts career growth: Whether true or not, many times going part-time is viewed as a sign that you’re less dedicated to your profession. Additionally, part-time people may be overlooked for promotions compared to full-time people who are viewed as more deserving because they put in longer hours.
Resentfulness: Even considering you’re likely taking a pay cut, your coworkers may be jealous of your ability to work less time than they do. Worse, they might be downright resentful. While hopefully you have a supportive supervisor and team, it’s common to have colleagues who may not think it’s such a great idea you work fewer hours than they do.
More stress: But wait, didn’t you just say working part-time has less stress? Yes … in the ideal situation. Unfortunately, there are times when people work part-time only to find they have the same level of responsibilities, yet less time to get everything done. If you go part-time, make sure your shorter hours also come with a smaller workload so you don’t get more stressed with less pay.
If you’ve made the leap to part-time, what are your thoughts on the pros and cons? What advice would you give others?