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Are You Jealous of Your Part-Time Co-Worker?

The work day is only half over, but your hard-working co-worker is already done for the day. This co-worker works part time, and the whole thing just blows.

I'm considering applying
for a part-time job just
for the free toilet
paper and office

You might not like to admit it out loud, but you're a little bit envious (okay, totally jealous!) of the co-worker who specifically sought out a part-time job for the flexibility or "fun" of it. These co-workers do not want to work full time, thankyouverymuch, because it's financially feasible for them to work 10/15/20/25 hours per week, max.

Why is life so unfair? Why do you have to slog through 8 (okay, 9 or 10) hours at the office every day while your part-time-on-purpose colleague is probably sitting on the back deck of their beautiful dream home on Easy Street watching the leaves sway in the warm afternoon breeze?**

You want to look with some disdain upon the part-timer in your work life, but he or she is a conscientious employee who always manages to tie up loose ends before leaving for the day. At 1 p.m. Grr.

Part Time Is the Right Amount of Time
We need to talk about part-timer envy in the workplace, because the U.S. economy is trending again toward full-time employment. In April, 5.3 million Americans were working part time for economic reasons -- a decrease of 281,000 compared to the previous month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the past 12 months, the number of Americans employed part time for economic reasons has decreased by 698,000.

If the trend continues, then the part-timers who remain part time will be doing so because working part time works best for them.

But it might not work as well for the overworked, full-time colleague who feels tempted to say, "It must be nice to be able to leave for the day when there's so much work to do" or some other snappy retort that's typically reserved for vacation shaming a full-time colleague. Yikes.

Five Tips For Dealing With Part-Time Envy
The question is, how can we put the part-time-on-purpose colleague in proper perspective? Here are five quick tips for dealing with part-timer envy at work:

1. Focus on the work. Does your part-time colleague deliver on today's main objectives before leaving the office? Are they good communicators who never leave you hanging? If so, they are doing their job -- even if you have to wait for them to finish something tomorrow. If they're a total slacker, then that's another story.

2. Think about what you do have. As a full-time employee, you have access to various perks and benefits your part-time colleagues do not receive. Also know that your part-time colleagues value you for your expertise, and dedication. In fact, they quietly marvel at how you can breeze through an entire work day juggling so many balls in the air! Envy is a two-way street.

3. Stop wondering why they bother. Stop wondering why these part-time-on-purpose colleagues "even bother working." They work here because they want to! They could quit at any moment without any financial hiccups, yet they stay. Think of it this way: The continued presence of the part-time-on-purpose colleague actually says something quite wonderful about the company. It's an endorsement of good management, and awesome colleagues!

4. Recognize we all make different life choices. This co-worker has other interests and priorities outside the workplace, and their part-time status is a public announcement of this fact. We all make different work/life choices, but we all share a lot in common, too. The key is to treat each other with respect. Stay in your lane, and let them stay in theirs. On that note...

5. Look for common bonds and build on them. Searching for commonalities, instead of differences, will create a stronger bond with your part-time-on-purpose colleagues. Maybe you both enjoy the same hobby, share a love of a certain rock band, or have the same sense of humor. Find similarities and build on them.

See? There's no need to feel envious of the part-timers at work! They want to do a good job for you. Just don't tell them how easy they have it.

** Telling the kids to stop arguing over a toy in the yard is probably more accurate.


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