Hours Reduced, But Careers Continue

Switch to part-time work doesn't have to hinder advancement.

At best-managed companies, salaries of part-time employees decline (based on the number of hours worked), but career advancement continues. For example, when Alice Campbell returned to work at Baxter International Inc. after maternity leave 10 years ago, she chose a part-time schedule (with Fridays off) and was promoted to the newly created position of director of work/life initiatives. Similarly, when Carol Chamberlain switched to part-time work three and a half years ago at Medtronic Inc., she was a human resources generalist. Two promotions later, she's now a project leader in human resources information systems. "My intent is to move back to full time at some point," says the mother of two small children. "But in the meantime I can continue to develop new skills." That's one of the reasons companies such as Medtronic don't cut back on educational assistance for part-time employees. "We want them to continue to learn," says David Ness, Medtronic's vice president, compensation and benefits. By offering part-time work without hindering career advancement, employers "allow an individual to continue to develop skills and experience and stay active in the workplace," adds Deb VanderMolen, manager, work/life strategies, Steelcase Inc. Such progressive attitudes "send a positive message that these arrangements are possible -- and won't hurt my career -- should the need arise," says Sue Canar, Baxter's manager, global benefits. Likewise, when Gen Barron, manager of Medtronic's health-and-wellness fitness center, switched to part-time status shortly after the birth of her second child, she knew there wouldn't be any career repercussions. "I don't feel less valued or that this has been a backward step in my career," she notes.

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