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The life and stresses of a Part Time Employee

Mental Health Awareness Week (14 to 20 May 2018) is a great time to think about how we can all address the causes of work-related stress.

I have worked part time since returning from maternity leave after my second child. I currently work three days a week as an Associate in the employment team at Consilia Legal. Whilst fortunate to work part time as it allows me some degree of flexibility and time at home with my kids (great when they are getting along!), it is not without its challenges.

Whilst my role is part time, I also assist my husband with the administration of his tiling and bathroom business.

My third and unpaid role is acting as PA to the kids, doing the school runs, providing a taxi service to their out of school activities and barking orders about getting dressed, cleaning teeth, homework and tidying up!

I’m sure many of you know what it’s like to feel stressed and the daily routine I experience will be familiar to many working parents – stress unfortunately seems to have become part of everyday life and applies to staff of all types whether they are full or part time.

One of the particular issues faced by part timers is the pressure to prove yourself, whether this is self-imposed or as a result of a demanding Manager. This may include pushing yourself to meet deadlines so that your colleagues do not have to pick up tasks you did not get around to completing by the end of the working day.

I personally find that on my “non-working” days, I frequently log in to check my emails to stay in the loop and to deal with any queries or anything urgent that will not wait until I am next in the office, in order to meet client expectations of levels of service.

I think part time employees also often feel a sense of guilt that they are not doing anything particularly well and are juggling all of their roles and are unable to dedicate the sufficient amount of time to any of them, which can often lead to lack of confidence and self-worth.

If overwhelmed by stress it may lead to mental health problems.

Even though there are things happening in life that you can’t control, here are my 6 practical tips to help part time workers manage the amount of pressure they face day to day:

  • Ask for help – don’t let pride get in the way – everyone needs a hand from time to time. Discuss your workload, set realistic targets and how to resolve the problems you’re experiencing with your Manager.
  • Balance your time –You may need to work longer hours on your “working” days to get something done, but try to re-claim this time at a later date if you can.
  • To do list – we are big fans of these at Consilia – there is nothing more satisfying than the list being ticked off! Don’t attempt to do too much at once, break it down into small manageable tasks.
  • Be realistic – You don’t have to be ‘perfect’ all the time, give yourself a break.
  • Take short breaks throughout the day as well as at least half-an-hour away from your desk at lunch. Go for a short walk outside if you can. The Consilia team can often be found in Park Square, Leeds having some lunch on a sunny day if you fancy a chat!
  • Embrace the work-life balance – it’s one of the perks to working part time, it’s not easy but make time for the things you enjoy!

The findings of the recent Thriving at Work report (published 26/10/2017) suggest that poor mental health of employees costs UK employers between £33 – £42 billion a year.

As an employer, it is essential to prioritise the mental health of your staff if you want to attract and retain committed employees. Managers should be trained to spot signs of stress, monitor workloads and reallocate work where necessary. Employees should be encouraged to discuss any issues they are experiencing with a view to creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

If you do not currently have one, you may want to consider introducing a Stress at work Policy in your Staff Handbook.

For further information, please contact the team at Consilia Legal.