40 Hours Isn't Always Best
Many of us would like to work a few less hours per week than we do, but we are locked into full-time positions. Usually that means a minimum of 40 hours per week. But what would a 35 or 30 hour per week position look like from our employer's point of view?
First of all, because attractive 30-35 hour positions with decent benefits aren't available yet around every corner, employers who offer them can hook an employee for the long haul. It's the 'golden handcuffs'. Once someone lands such a job, he or she is likely to stick around simply because another job like this is hard to get. I have no statistics to back me up here, but I bet a staff of 30 hour per week employees turns over much more slowly than a full-time staff.
Secondly, not all jobs require exactly 40 hours per week to do. Face it - all of us have some slack in our jobs, where we aren't terribly efficient or are just plain goofing off. I'll bet most of us could get almost the same amount of work done in 30 efficient hours that we get done in 40 regular hours. So, an employer who can detect which positions can be done in less than full time stands to save a bundle of money by offering reduced hours to employees who want them.
By offering such positions, employers can draw from two pools of talented workers. One pool is the existing top-performing full-time employee who would love to trim off a few hours from his/her work week (e.g., the would-be equally sharing parent). The other is the highly qualified stay-at-home mom (or dad) who doesn't work now because she (or he) doesn't want a full-time job.
Reduced hour positions deserve pro-rated benefits. But forward-thinking employers can tailor their benefit structure to lose nothing (or very little) by offering reduced benefits to a 30-35 hour per week employee rather than full benefits to a 40 hour employee.
Employees who work 30-35 hours per week for one company consider this job to be their sole or primary job. This is in contrast to many 20 hour per week employees who hold down 2 or more jobs with divided loyalties to each. Therefore, your typical 30+ hour per week employee is likely to be just as connected and involved in the success of his/her company as a full-time employee.
So, reduced hours is great for employers! The above benefits apply to both big and small companies. There is a huge untapped need for excellent reduced hour positions with acceptable benefits, and the employer who markets open positions like this first wins. Meanwhile, if you want a reduced hour position, go ahead and ask! Maybe even use some of these arguments to convince your boss that your idea is the best thing for everyone.