Should You Hire Part-Time or Full-Time? 5 Questions to Ask Your Team

If you could hire a new employee, would you bring on a full-time or part-time staff member?

Until recently, I would have laughed at that question: Full-Time! Who in their right mind would prefer hiring part-time staff if full-time was an option?

Full-time staff members provide full-time attention.

Full-time staff members work until the job is done, not until their hours are up.

Full-time staff members are available when you are available.

While all that is true, when I began evaluating staff options against FTEs (Full-Time Equivalents), I began to see staffing through a new lens. At Watermarke, we hire to attendance ratios and revenue allocations. I’m ultimately not as concerned with total staff members as I am with FTEs. That creates a different perspective, which provides for some new considerations.

For me and our church, organizationally speaking, our primary staff needs revolve around executing Sunday programming. It goes without saying the more bodies on Sunday the better. But, there is a lot of work that happens throughout the week, and more bodies doesn’t necessarily equate to more progress.

So how do you decide between hiring part-time and full-time staff? Here are five clarifying questions I use to help our church decide:

1. Do we need more people or more focus?

This might be the most critical question (although you should read the others, too—especially number five). If you need more bodies, hiring two part-time employees over one full-time employee is the best solution. We have done this in many departments at Watermarke to help cover Sunday responsibilities.

2. Can we afford all the cost?

Full-time staff require more stuff: Benefits. Office space. Vacation time. Equipment. That’s just the beginning. Part-time staff are simply cheaper. Expense is certainly not the only decision criteria, but it should be a consideration.

3. Does the role primarily involve leadership or execution?

This is not always the case, but typically, it’s difficult to find dynamic leaders willing or able to work part-time. Again, they are out there, but finding them can feel a little “needle in a haystack’ish.” If you see the role more execution oriented, then a part-time staff member may be exactly what you need. But if there is a heavy leadership component, a full-time staff member might be required.

4. Is this position permanent or temporary?

I don’t mean short-term (you could leverage contract labor), but temporary. As in this is a role that might not be necessary next year. Or this is a role within a new department or environment with success questions. As bad as this might sound, removing a part-time employee is easier than a full-time employee. And it often imparts less damage to the individual and family.

5. Can the hiring director manage the tension?

Don’t skip this one! Managing part-time staff takes more leadership skill. They are not available five days and 40-plus hours a week. Their schedules are less dependent. Their personal lives interfere more frequently. This is all manageable, but it requires better leadership.

For instance: Staff meetings must be scheduled around the staff’s availability. Easy when they’re full-time—complicated when they are part-time. Weekly tasks must be planned more in advance when working with part-time staff. You get the point.

I’m sure there are more questions we should ask. How do you decide between hiring full-time or part-time employees? I’d love to hear your decision criteria. Leave a comment below, and feel free to share this with other leaders so we can all learn together.