New research says employers and policymakers should capitalise on how part-time furlough increased managers’ capacity for managing part-time workers.
The Government and employers should invest in a part-time working pilot to capitalise on the experiences of flexible furlough and encourage openness to part-time working, according to new research from Cranfield University’s School of Management.
The ‘Part time working after the pandemic’ report, authored by Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield University, Dr Charlotte Gascoigne and Dr Pierre Walthery, looked at the experience of firms that used the flexible furlough option as the country exited lockdown. Flexible furlough allowed organisations to bring back employees on a part-time basis with the government topping up their wages.
The report argues that experimentation and innovation in the workplace should be encouraged to help embed new ways of working, share best practice and attract and retain talent.
The research found that the UK has a pool of newfound expertise in part-time working due to the success of the flexible furlough scheme, something the researchers say could be mobilised to help attract and retain those who have dropped out of the workplace since Covid – particularly older workers. Studies show growing demand for more part-time jobs, among other reasons as second jobs to boost income and due to a desire for a greater work life balance.
The report found 40% of those who had used the flexible furlough scheme said line managers are now better at managing part-time working effectively, that just over 40% of those who had used the flexible furlough scheme said that it made their line managers more open to part-time working and that the assumption is still that it is mainly women who want to work part time. It also shows many employers are more concerned with hybrid working and increasing work from home than engaging with the issues around hours, but that labour shortages are driving openness to part-time working among employers.
Lead author Professor Clare Kelliher said: “Flexible furlough was a unique experiment in part-time working and it was one that many employers and employees learnt a lot from as they put it into practice. It’s vital that we don’t lose that knowledge or willingness to innovate in the workplace – employers should now be looking to build on what they learnt to attract and retain talent.
“The world of work is going through unprecedented change with the move to hybrid working and events like the great resignation. Part-time work offers a route for employers and employees to successfully navigate upheaval and thrive into the future.
“The government rightly wants to see the economy grow. Investigating part-time working and encouraging its widespread use where appropriate could bring many millions of people currently excluded from work back into the workforce and boost the economy at a time when it is desperately needed.”