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How can I reduce my working hours?

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I am a full-time staff nurse on a busy surgical ward. I am finding the hours very difficult and my home life is suffering. I know my manager will be reluctant to reduce my hours. How can I persuade her?

Reducing someone’s hours in a busy surgical team can at first appear quite daunting to your manager. She may be concerned that the balance of the team will be upset and that your contribution will be reduced and that this will have an adverse effect on patient care.

However, there are ways through this and it is up to you to work with your manager to find a way through it in such a way that you both gain.

Try to find out what the policy is at your trust with regard to flexible working in general and the reduction of hours in particular. Your HR department may be able to help. This will give you specific arguments that you can use in discussions with your manager so that you can both see your way through this dilemma.

However, it is important from your point of view to be aware that your manager does have the responsibility to balance the meeting of service needs with providing flexible working conditions. So reducing your hours, although it should be carefully considered, cannot be a right in every situation.

Tell your manager how your current hours are affecting your life and your work. Maybe this has already been discussed during an appraisal. Tell your manager how much you like working in this team and emphasise the contribution you are making, and how this could be improved further if you were able to reduce your hours.

Have a good idea of what hours you would like to work in order for you to better balance your work and family commitments. Perhaps you have knowledge of how such an arrangement already works on another ward. It may be that your manager could use the resources saved by reducing your hours in a different way within the ward team.

By approaching your manager in a positive, constructive way, armed with a number of reasons why you want to reduce your hours and some options for achieving this, you will greatly increase your chances of success.

Chris Pearce, formerly a director of nursing, is a life coach with

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