Co-founder inniAccountsView Author Profile
SMEs should offer part-time work to senior people to help scale up their success.
Watching the Brownlee brothers win their medals in Rio reminded me of a conversation I’d had with a job applicant. They were one of the tens of thousands of Brits that have caught the triathlon bug.
An addiction that had lead them to realise that in order to balance being a dad, a professional and an athlete they needed to change the way they used their time.
It was a very grown-up conversation. Essentially, putting forward the case that it’s possible to reach a certain point in your career and be ultra efficient, dedicated and deliver success in your work, in fewer hours. But most of all do it for a company you believe in, rather than a big corporate.
It highlighted that we should practice what we preach more. Our business serves people who want to be contractors and freelancers because it affords them more flexibility to do what they want in life. Why weren’t we doing more of this ourselves? We had we let our size restrict us.
We needed senior people, with expertise and fresh perspective, yet were highly capable of rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done. It all made sense on paper to hire senior people for half the time.
But I didn’t believe it would be possible in Derby. London, Leeds, Manchester maybe. But not Derby. And if I’m honest that’s what had stopped me from pursuing it as a recruitment strategy.
A few months ago we decided to expand our business with a mix of apprentices through to senior professionals to help us achieve our next milestone.
It felt brave but I issued job adverts for marketing positions, which were to my mind full time roles, but offering flexible hours.
I must say I did it with some trepidation. But how wrong I was.
I received the most incredible CVs, not just a handful but dozens. I was spoilt for choice. Derbyshire had delivered. I had underestimated how many people had moved out of London, having rethought their lives to balance time with family and their hobbies or sporting passions, yet still wanted to pursue a fulfilling career.
They were capable of getting the job done beyond expectation in fewer hours than the job description stipulated and the notion of flexible, part time work became a win-win.
We now employ people who finish early to collect from school, or get in late after a fell run. They manage their time and they deliver great results on time. In fact, in lots of cases they deliver more. They are driven.
And I think it’s this drive that more small businesses, especially those scaling-up, could use to grow their businesses in a more efficient way.
As I see it in action there are in five pivotal benefits:
It’s a no brainer for the balance sheet
In return for the flexibility, people don’t expect the same London salary. They know there is a compromise. But I’m prepared to compromise on how much of their time I get but in the knowledge they will get the job done. In fact the work rate is much higher and value for money is unbeatable.
Talent breeds talent
The people we employ are passionate. This is true across the board. You can’t be a Queen’s Award winning business if you don’t have total commitment to the cause. But what I have noticed is that the senior people we’ve employed flexibly, do more than turn up to get a job done.
They also coach and foster new ideas among the whole team. They are passionate about their skills and how others can cultivate theirs. It’s almost like having a mini training ground and has been invaluable for getting apprentices, even interns, engaged in the company’s development.
We’ve always been a fun place to work, but when you have skills rubbing off on other people, and a workforce that’s more in tune, you start to see a halo effect. People genuinely become even happier. The support isn’t structured or forced, its inherent and it makes for a fun, buzzy atmosphere.
We innovate technically. We innovate on price. But what I hadn’t banked on was the small innovations, even ones that the customer won’t see, that have a material impact on how we run our business. As teams share knowledge they become more confident to share ideas and test them.
The senior experts apply their valuable business acumen and this provides a great environment for assessing the risk of running trials and doing things differently.
Experts grow loyalty
We invest in every person’s development and this in itself makes our people loyal. But when you hire expertise that they can learn from, loyalty goes up a notch.
And it’s not just our people that are loyal it’s also our customers. The quality of advice and the way it’s delivered also improves. Service is our differentiator so expectations are high to begin with, but there is a definite gear change when your experts change the overall service dynamics for the good.
So if you’re looking for ways to inject talent into your business but are querying the cost or the benefit then think again. You may find the pool of talent available in your area is better than you think and that by being brave you can take your business to new heights.
The Case For Hiring Experienced, Senior Part-Timers