I was recently recounting my working history for an online profile. Since starting my business last year, I haven’t had much occasion to revisit my resume; instead I’ve been focusing on position statements, capability documents and bios. And while my resume is very polished (that comes from being a career coach for so many years!) some distance and perspective led me to discover something new about my working history.
As I was typing in the job titles in and around my two breaks to care for my two little ones, I started to get a sense of defensiveness. I would almost go so far as to call it shame. My career and job titles were taking a clear trajectory up until I had kids and it’s quite obvious that my roles changed afterwards. My internal dialogue sounded something like this: “Senior Consultant. Really? Is that all? But, but… I was part time. It was the only role I could get that was even close to what I could deliver. What would someone think of that?!” Etc etc
What you may not know, is that I am exceptionally passionate about flexible roles. This comes from being in a flexible role (which many will say that I should see myself as ‘lucky’ for having. More on that later) and being desperately unhappy and undervalued. I took the role knowing it was at least two levels below what I was capable of contributing and I thought that the fact I was only working three days would make up for that. It didn’t.
There is a whole section of the workforce that is just like I was. Underutilised, undervalued, disengaged. All because roles aren’t flexible and meaningful at the same time (heaven forbid). This is why I cringe when I hear someone describe themselves as “lucky” when they have a flexible role. This shouldn’t even be a thing. It should just be ‘how we do things around here’.
This is why my vision is to become the employer of choice for part-time workers in my field (organisational development/HR). I want to lead the business that intelligent, passionate, driven humans look to in providing flexible, at-level, challenging roles. That would make my heart sing. Do you know why?
The flow on effects of being fulfilled, engaged and having purposeful work. Research tells us that “underutilisation has significant impacts on economic efficiency, social isolation and exclusion and individual wellbeing” (Baum et al, 2008, p. 1194). I know this to be true and want to give the gift of connection and meaning to other talented but underutilised humans.
So, the next time you see research on flexibility (which is overwhelmingly stating that it is related to increased retention and productivity) quoting these positive elements, ask yourself – how many other workers would kill (though not literally) to have a flexible, meaningful role?
If you feel drawn to contribute to this vision in some way, please get in touch on 0409 585 443 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.