Shaun’s sons are happy he’s a flexible dad

Joining HR firm People Puzzles and working flexibly has made Shaun O’Hara’s life easier. But most importantly his sons say they are happier that he’s around for them.

Shaun Ohara flexible dad


People Puzzles are an HR firm that offer part time HR directors to small and medium-sized businesses who are looking to grow.

Given HR is their business they look to model best practice themselves. That includes offering flexible working.

Like many working dads Shaun O’Hara was struggling to juggle the pressure of a full time job with his family commitments. He told us how joining People Puzzles and adopting a different working pattern helped him and his family.


What family have you got?

Two boys, aged 12 and nine. They’re amazing.

What is your flexible working arrangement?

I work with all my clients on a part-day basis, approx seven hours a day. I start early at 8am and I finish in time for school pick up. With the boys at different schools it’s a fairly complex set up of pick ups and drop offs at their various sports activities. The boys have sports activities four evenings a week!

I’m very thankful for my clients, they all support the way of working and flex key business meetings around me. I end up putting in extra hours for them out of hours and weekends to get the deliverables nailed for them.

Why did you want to go flexible?

After separating from the boys’ mum, I worked for a large FTSE who started flexibly then started to reduce that flexibility. I always said being a dad was critical to me so we agreed to disagree and I took a package.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw People Puzzle’s add for part-time HR Directors. I applied, had the offer in 2 days and have never looked back since. It has transformed my life and I’m thankful to them for the opportunity.

How easy/difficult was the process?

Easy given the above, although it can be uncomfortable initially making the request with new clients that People Puzzles line me up with. I’ve found being honest upfront about the situation before starting the assignment is the only way to do it.

What’s been the reaction among colleagues?

Very supportive in People Puzzles and with the clients’ employees.

Are there particular challenges around working flexibly in your industry?

I think it’s tough if you’re in senior HR role in a big firm as a permanent employee. Why can’t permanent employees who are dads go part-time in senior roles?

Has it made you a better dad?

The boys say so and that’s all I care about. They love the time invested in them. In the tricky situations where I’ve had the prospect of winning a new client to earn a bit more money, they’ve always said they’d rather we budget as a family and I have more time with them. We’d rather be rich in experiences versus material wealth.

Has it made you a better employee?

Yes – when I’m on a client site / project I am 100% focused on delivering value to that client.

Can you think of a specific time/example when being able to work flexibly has made life easier?

All of the above – but specifically at the moment leaving client site mid-afternoon to collect my children and do sports with them is a life game changer.

What would you say to any employer wary of embracing flexible working?

Try it first and measure the work performance of your employees. It WILL increase if you give them flexibility.

What would you say to any dad thinking about going flexible?

Set the parameters you need to be flexible. Be brave in landing/negotiating them with your employer. Never compromise on what’s most important – your children.

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