Boosting your part-time work pool

Professionalising part-time work and better workplace integration could help attract more housewives and mature workers into the workforce

The quota for foreign workers will be further tightened this month, adding further pressure on companies already experiencing a labour shortage.

Part-time labour pools are a useful resource in times like these. They are especially critical in the food and beverage and retail sectors where wide fluctuations in business volumes through seasonal peaks and troughs are typical, Darshan Singh, Director, Human Capital Division of SPRING Singapore tells HRM. “A cost-efficient method to address these varying demands is to tap on part-timers to complement full-time staff.”

However, while companies do employ a significant proportion of part-time workers, Singapore does not have a stable pool of well-trained part-time workers, says Singh. This can affect the quality of service and customer satisfaction.

SPRING Singapore has been encouraging companies to hire more mature workers and housewives into their workforce to ease the talent crunch. Over the next few months, it will be working with business associations and self-help groups to spread the message further.

SPRING is also channelling part-time workers to retail and food and beverage establishments through its Part-Time Pool Programme (see: boxout). Launched in 2011, the programme, which promotes flexible staffing models, has deployed 3,300 part-timers to some 130 participating companies in these sectors. However, mature workers and housewives make up just a third of this pool. To overcome this, companies need to better integrate such employees into the workforce, says SPRING.

 Food and beverage company Han’s for example, has successfully engaged this segment of the workforce – 40% of its staff are over 40 years old, with 18 over 62 years old, and even two aged over 80. Having younger, able-bodied employees work alongside older and disabled workers has helped the company attract and retain staff.

Another example is the Jumbo Group of Restaurants, which has hired some 150 mature workers and 128 back-to-work women. Christina Kong, the group’s senior director of HR and corporate affairs told HRM that the company has been looking at innovative ways to attract this group of employees. In the process it has re-designed jobs as well as introduced flexible work hours.

Employers can better integrate part-time workers by placing emphasis on recognising and rewarding them based on their level of commitment, performance and experience, akin to how full-time employees are recognised, says Singh. “This would allow companies to engage the more committed and dedicated workforce based on their experience, maturity and work ethic, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time employees.”

According to Singh, both companies and part-timers need to play their parts and put in effort to professionalise part-time work. “Companies need to create a positive and supportive culture for part-time workers. Besides short-term tweaks to job roles, incentives and work arrangements, companies need to put in place systems and practices that will integrate, develop and reward part-time employees for the long run,” Singh concludes.


Part-Time Pool Programme (PTP)

Under the Part-Time Pool Programme (PTP), manpower service providers offer a competitive benefits package to part-timers, including CPF contributions. Part-timers are required to attend a Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) retail or food and beverage course by the Singapore Retailers’ Association (SRA) or Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) respectively. Part-timers who complete the minimum number of required deployment slots within three months after their training receive an additional bonus.

Qualifying employers can also receive a deployment grant of up to $10,000 to offset the hourly rates paid to manpower service providers.


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