Friday 20 September 2019

How Generation Job Share has it all worked out

Work less, earn more. Sounds great, right? Well, you too can take a step back and learn to work smarter - just like these 'part-timers'

Lifestyle choice: Mother and part-time stylist/reseller Emma Mullane at home in Mungret, Co Limerick. Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Lifestyle choice: Mother and part-time stylist/reseller Emma Mullane at home in Mungret, Co Limerick. Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Robert MacGiolla Phadraig, Sigmar Recruitment. Photo: Damien Eagers

Alex Meehan

We all know them: the colleagues who spend all hours of the day in the office, even when they're not busy, in a desperate bid to prove just how productive they are. But a new report suggests that they're going about things in entirely the wrong way.

According to a recent study, nearly 750,000 of part-time workers in Britain earn over €47,000 each year while working less than five days a week. In other words, it's possible to pull down a respectable salary while rejecting the traditional working week.

"It used to be the case that part-time work was seen as something you did instead of having a proper full-time job. But increasingly we're seeing people looking for more flexible work arrangements that fit in with their lives," says Charley Stoney of the recruitment company Alternatives.

"That means working part-time, but it also means things like getting in and leaving the office early, working from home - it's all about flexibility."

Robert MacGiolla Phadraig, Sigmar Recruitment. Photo: Damien Eagers
Robert MacGiolla Phadraig, Sigmar Recruitment. Photo: Damien Eagers

The simplest way of working out payment for part-time work is pro-rata - you get a daily rate for each day you work. But there are always exceptions, and going part-time doesn't necessarily involve a proportional wage drop.

"For example, if you're working from home for one or two days a week and you're always on the phone, then you can frame a good argument that you should be getting more than pro-rata. It's increasingly common for people to be 'always on', plugged into their email and on the phone," Stoney explains.

Because of this, there is a shift happening in the employment market towards performance-related pay. And according to Robert MacGiolla Phadraig of Sigmar Recruitment, the reason is that companies will do what it takes to retain key talent.

"Companies that are agile and more competitive are increasingly paying based on results rather than on a fixed annual salary basis. That's ideal for anyone who wants to downsize their job, because it allows them to potentially earn more while working less. It's all about results," he says. "If you're achieving the same output on a three-day basis as you did in five days, you shouldn't be penalised."

According to Stoney, many people opt to downsize their jobs when they start families and the economic and emotional cost of childcare comes into play.

"The phrase 'work-life balance' refers to an out of date concept, because what is work if it isn't life? You're alive when you're at work too, so it's important you're happy," she says. "Women in particular want to give to their family but also maintain a career, and that's a big deal.

"Men can, of course, also be stay-at-home, part-time workers - often a couple will choose the person with the highest income to stay in full-time work while the other person downsizes to work part-time."

Downsizing her job has worked well for 43-year-old Tara O'Connor, a public relations and events consultant based in Kildare. O'Connor has worked at pretty much every level of the industry during her career, including with large agencies and in in-house roles with multinational companies.

But when two small children arrived she decided, along with her husband Andrew, that she needed to take a step back and take a look at their life.

"I now work purely part-time, managing four clients. I travel a lot, so that's as much as I can do. PR and event management is a 24/7 job and there are a lot of weekends and nights, and I realised I just didn't want to spend that time away from my family," she says.

O'Connor describes herself as "first and foremost" a mum to her two boys, JP (5) and Andrew (3). She works four days a week, but doesn't do full days as her schedule fits in around her kids.

"I feel like I've had the big career, had the big clients and earned the big money, but now I'm happy to work from home and have a different pace of life. I enjoy the time I have with my children too much, particularly with my eldest who tells me about his day in the car on the way from school," she said.

"I have friends with high-flying careers and the reality is that they don't see their kids from Monday to Friday and that's not how I wanted mine to grow up. My clients get that - they are all mums and dads themselves and they understand and respect what I'm doing."

Case study: ‘It’s been so liberating. I earn more and I’m my own boss’

Emma Mullane (35), fashion stylist and reseller, Cork

Emma Mullane was working in a nine-to-five office job in 2015 when the opportunity came up to take a lucrative hobby and turn it into a full-time occupation selling jewellery and accessories.

Mullane had been working in her spare time as a stylist and reseller for the American company Stella & Dot, and enjoyed what she was doing so much that she decided to give up her job and go full-time with the firm. The next day, she and her husband Niall discovered she was pregnant with their second daughter, Meg (1).

"I'm glad it happened that way, because I would probably have lost my nerve if it hadn't. It's the best thing I ever did. I was able to stay at home with Meg, something I wasn't able to do with my older daughter Phoebe (5)," she says.

Stella & Dot functions like a modern-day version of Avon, with resellers offering jewellery and accessories at 'trunk shows' or parties in people's homes.

"It's a business in a box - you invest an amount of money and for that you get all your marketing materials and a certain amount of jewellery and accessories to get you started," says Mullane. "It became so successful for me that I was able to leave my full-time job and go full-time. I say full-time, but really it fits in around my life. It's been so liberating. I earn more money and I'm my own boss."

Mullane now has a team of around 50 people across Ireland working for Stella & Dot through her, all doing the same thing she did on a part-time basis.

"I'm much happier now than I was before," she explains. "It's true what they say - if you're unhappy in work, you're going to be unhappy at home. I've built something up from scratch without having to sacrifice my family life. It's done wonders for my confidence and self-possession."

Irish Independent

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