25 August 2020, text: Senada Kadic, photo: Helvetia
Almost 40% of employees in Switzerland work part-time. Around six out of ten women but only 1.8 out of ten men (as at 2019) consciously decide to reduce their working hours. According to the Federal Statistical Office, part-time working is typical for female employees. The flip side of the coin is that many employees have fewer career opportunities as soon as they «only» work part-time.
At Helvetia we are endeavouring to change this picture. We believe that both women and men can take on responsibility and develop in a part-time role too. Two women in our Helvetia Service Center (HSC) who for years have managed to juggle their careers, families, professional development and many other tasks «despite» working part-time are one such example.
«I've worked at Helvetia for 19 years, and have been managing teams for ten. When my first child was born three years ago I reduced my working hours to 80%. I continued to manage my employees. In the meantime I've also started a Master’s degree course and will complete it after the birth of my second child, who is still on the way. Yes, I wear several different hats. And I don't think that I’m not up to certain tasks because I’m a part-time manager or that I’m disadvantaged compared to full-time managers. The decision to work as a part-time manager takes courage but is certainly realistic. It calls for flexibility. Both from me as an individual and from my employer and circle of family and friends. But it always starts with you. And for me, that's the way it should be. You need to be satisfied with your lot. And I am, because the combination of family time, work and me-time is very enriching, and I wouldn’t want to give up any part of it. »
«I’m an early riser and am usually the first one to arrive in the office. When I’m at home I work in off-peak hours and also when my child is sleeping. During the day I also take time for my family. My secret to success is: Whatever I do, I do it 100%. If I’m being a mum, I do it wholeheartedly. We go to gym class together, sing or have fun in the playground. And I can also be a businesswoman who understands her work and motivates her employees. My husband and I discuss what our respective agendas are each week. He can also work very flexibly, and so we complement each other very well. There are three of us part-time managers at the HSC. We pass on tips to each other and lend each other support. »
«When I started at Helvetia in 2018 I had two employees – now I have ten. In the meantime my second child was born, and when I’m not working I really enjoy the time with my family. I started in my management role while working part-time at Helvetia. I bear a lot of responsibility, and the role also requires a desire to perform. On the other hand, working part-time for Helvetia was never an obstacle for me in terms of achieving my professional goals. If the parameters are right – and they are at our company – you can also find a management position for less than a full working week. I think that there are three key factors in order for it to work: good, independent employees, a line manager and a company who believe in part-time managers, plus support from friends and family and your own desire to perform and to do without time for yourself. »
«I had to try out a few different approaches before finding my «rhythm». After my first child was born I worked in the office four days a week on an 80% basis. But I didn't have enough time at home so I cut back to 70%. However, then I didn't have enough time for all my tasks so I increased to 80% again. I've now organized things so that I work in the office three days a week and manage the rest at home during the week. My husband also works 80%, and because we both have flexible working hours, the children are looked after by their grandparents just two days a week. This is a system that works for our family. But it’s an individual thing, and each family needs to work out what's best for them. »