How to make job sharing work

how to make job sharing workJob sharing is where a company employs two people on a part-time basis in one single position, with the responsibilities of the role shared or split between both. Typically, job share partners work three days per week each, often including one cross over day. 

There are many reasons why individuals are motivated to job share. Job sharing is a wonderful way to retain women in the workforce during the years when they need to work flexibly to raise families. Other drivers for job sharing include fathers in caregiver roles, those transitioning to retirement, people wanting to undertake further studies and individuals wanting time for entrepreneurial pursuits.

Benefits of job sharing

Job sharing offers organisations many benefits, all of which differentiate your business from other employers, whilst also enabling access to a brains trust of talent only available to work part-time hours. From a commercial viewpoint, research indicates that job sharing results in a 30% increase in productivity (Capability Jane, job share research, 2013, UK). Other benefits of job sharing are that it enables businesses to retain and engage staff, and to attract new talent which are key challenges for all HR Managers. Job sharing also provides greater role coverage, as when one half of the job share partnership is on leave, the other individual is still working 3 days per week.

“The truth is that job sharing results in a win-win for both employers and employees.” 

It enables employees to work 3 days per week while progressing their careers, and job sharing provides organisations with full role coverage so that productivity and performance are not compromised. 

A successful job share partnership will often present with complementary skills and strengths so that the whole of the partnership is greater than the sum of its parts - two minds are better than one! Job sharing also leads to greater diversity and innovation with recent research from McKinsey proving that diverse businesses deliver 35% better results than non-diverse businesses. Above all else, job sharing leads to improved staff loyalty and morale, where employees feel valued and supported and therefore work harder and act as true ambassadors for the business.

A common misunderstanding of job sharing is that it is difficult to manage from an administration perspective, that people will have to repeat themselves, and that messages will get lost. To the contrary, research shows that when job sharing is established properly and is well supported, the reality is the opposite. In fact, because so much problem solving occurs between the two individuals, they become more solutions-oriented and independent and require less management time.

Tips for job share success

Job sharing is about careful preparation, implementation and communication and when job sharing is set up well from the outset, the benefits and business results are abounding. 

We recommend you follow these 5 tips to enable job share success in your business:

1. Sourcing a job share partner: when your employee informs you they would like to work part-time, however their role requires full coverage and 3 days is not feasible, it’s time to look for a job share partner. The best place to start looking for a job share partner is in your own organisation. Remember, job sharers don’t need exactly the same skill sets and expertise. If it is not possible to source a partner internally, reach out to a professional job share recruitment firm for help.

2. Address questions and concerns upfront: to secure buy-in from management and stakeholders, it’s important to address any misconceptions they may have through education upfront.

3. Invest in coaching: to set job share partners up for success, employers must invest in supporting their job sharers with job share coaching. This will ensure that the pair have systems and a structured approach to maximise their joint performance and job share success, merging them from “I” to “we”.

4. Be supportive: the success of a job share is dependent on the support of senior management. Research indicates that when management is visibly supportive of new ways of working, this encourages people to consider the option.

5. Advocacy: organisations need to publicise successful job share cases as more job share role models will close the gap between perception and reality. In fact, role modelling generally has been proven to be a highly successful strategy in giving women the confidence to advance their careers whilst juggling family commitments.

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