Let’s Talk: Full-time, part-time, or casual: How to weigh up work-type – costs vs productivity?

Image Credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

How you structure your workforce matters. Deciding whether to employ people on a full-time, part-time, or casual basis will not only affect corporate culture but also determine your organisation’s flexibility and responsiveness. Not to mention your payroll.

So how do you decide on the best mix of employees for your business?

Let’s talk…

James Murray, Mentorship Chair, Key Executive Chair, & Incoming Finance Chair, Entrepreneurs’ Organization Melbourne, Founder and Managing Director, Work Healthy Australia, Director Josh’s Rainbow Eggs

“With respect to the question of full-time vs part-time vs casual, we do have a process that we follow when we look at the role and the individual performing that role.

“If things are going to change or if you need a lot of flexibility, then you really have to do casual employment because you need the ability to modify tasks and schedules. 

“However, you have to be willing to pay the penalty rates to get that flexibility. There are benefits for the staff member because they get the increased rate, and they can say ‘no’ to shifts not suitable to their lifestyle. It’s a more expensive win-win situation that only works in roles that involve regular change.

“You turn to part-time when you don’t need the flexibility, or the person is willing to give up the penalty rates to lock in a recurring employment schedule. For part-time vs full-time, the first criteria is business need, what do we need from the role, and then flexibility. Then we go to the employee preference and ask whether or not they want three or four days a week or full-time and then we post the job accordingly.”

Gordon Starkey, COO, ELMO Software

“One of the largest expenses that any organisation will face is salaries and wages. It’s no surprise then that organisations will do all they can to try and make their workforce as productive and efficient as possible. 

“In some cases, businesses may see placing employees on contracts or casual work as a less risky option than hiring full-time workers. However, having hard-working and dedicated professionals within your organisation comes from a mutual commitment to one another. Employees need to feel that they are integral to the organisation’s growth and success and that they will be rewarded accordingly. If people feel that they are another cog in the machine they won’t feel incentivised or inclined to go above and beyond.

“If people are going to be a significant cost it makes sense to spend that money wisely and foster loyalty, dedication and commitment.”

Caroline Henshaw, Head of People & Culture, Mantel Group

“Remote work is just one part of what employees will expect in the aftermath of COVID-19. What is resonating with new hires coming through our door is that people want to craft their own jobs. Offering this possibility is not only a great benefit to future hiring; it is also an amazing cultural and productivity enabler.

“The number one thing that employees want to know today is not necessarily the details of the job itself, but how it will fit with their life. Employees respond to culture that is genuine, where an individual’s needs and best interests are properly catered for. 

“This includes the question of part-time or full-time or casual, which takes the form of contracting. This means jobs need to be broken down into deliverables that can be done in whatever work type people choose. 

“And that is the key – people want to choose their work type. It is no longer employers dictating. It is finding the right people and then creating a work type that suits them. By taking the time to have a meaningful conversation and supporting each person with whatever will make them feel happier in life and work, they will repay it in loyalty and enthusiasm towards the company and role.”

Rosie Cairnes, Regional Vice President, APAC at Skillsoft

“The question of cost and productivity runs deeper than full-time, part-time or casual. 

“Women are more likely to be in part-time and casual roles because they are carrying the lion’s share of unpaid labour at home. Their productivity may be high, but their career progression and contribution to the business may be diminished over time, and that is a problem. 

“The topics we should be addressing are education against unconscious bias in hiring, wage fairness, and establishing workplace policies with a diversity and inclusion focus to ensure all employees operate on a level playing field and can succeed in their jobs.”

Kris Grant, CEO ASPL Group

“You need to think critically about the particular role. Look at whether the role you’re hiring for is a business-as-usual or project role, and then determine whether you need it to be ongoing or not ongoing. 

“Look at the capability you want to bring in: is it sustainable and something that you want to grow? Or a short-term job that only needs doing once? 

“If you settle on hiring a contractor for the role, consider how the employee can help to uplift capability and mentor your existing staff, so you’re getting the most out of them while you have them.”

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers 

“When deciding how to structure your workforce in regard to full-time, part-time, casual or contract employment, it’s important to understand your responsibilities as an employer first.

“For example, casual employment has recently been redefined under the Fair Work Act. Now, a casual employee can only be considered as such if they accept a job offer from an employer knowing that there is “no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work”. 

“Now, casual employees employed for 12 months or more and who work regular shifts, must be offered permanent employment. They then become eligible for entitlements such as sick leave, holiday pay and other benefits.

“When it comes to contractors, there are several instances where a contractor may actually be considered an employee for tax or superannuation purposes.

“The process isn’t clear cut, so it’s important employers are educated on their responsibilities to remain compliant.”

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By Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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