What is job sharing? And are there any key benefits? Increasingly, more and more people are seeking a greater level of flexibility and a better work/life balance in their jobs. In the quest for these coveted work benefits, many people are shunning traditional 9-to-5 roles in favour of part-time opportunities.

Many parents often opt for this flexible way of working when returning to work after having a child. However, this is not always an easy process and finding part-time work can be a challenge. Some employers will be very open to the idea of part-time working, after parental leave for example. However, some employers may feel that a role is not well suited to this flexibility and that part-time hours could be impractical or detrimental.

Sometimes, employees may be disappointed to find that a part-time role doesn’t carry with it the same level of strategic responsibility or challenges as their full-time work, which can be frustrating in some instances.

A possible solution, for both employers and employees, is to consider the option of a job share. This is typically where a full-time remit is shared between employees who want to work part-time hours.

What is job sharing?

Job sharing, sometimes know as work sharing is an employment arrangement where two or more people, are retained on a part-time or reduced-time basis to perform the same job. Job sharing can be appealing for workers who are looking to reduce their hours to provide care for someone at home, or who are simply looking for a lighter workload without quitting altogether. 

What makes for a successful job share?

An employer will need to carefully assess the situation to ascertain whether a job share would work well in the particular circumstances in question. They’ll need to be sure of the following, to sucessfully implement a job share.

  • The work is clearly assigned and divided between the employees. The workload must be regularly monitored to ensure that an imbalance in workload between the two parties does not arise.
  • Clear lines of responsibility and decision making must be defined to avoid any confusion around who takes the lead on specific tasks.
  • The job sharers’ respective skill-sets and knowledge must complement each other and offer an effective combination of expertise.
  • Excellent channels of communication must be established between the employees undertaking the job share. Excellent communication will be needed to avoid misunderstandings, inaccuracies or a failure to relay important information.

Benefits of job sharing for the employee

Any form of part-time work has it's pros and cons. Job sharing is no exception to that, but for the most part the advantages and benefits of job sharing come out on top:

  • Retain the level of responsibility/strategic weight of a full time position.
  • Enjoy the flexibility of part time hours.
  • Exchange of skills and knowledge between job sharers.
  • Keep a level of seniority with their organisation while changing the structure of their hours.
  • Meet the demands of a challenging role while upholding an improved work/life balance.
  • Stronger relationships with their job share partner.

Disadvantages of job sharing for the employee

  • Reversing the arrangement could be problematic if you want to go back full time
  • Implications for your employee pay and benefits

Benefits of job sharing for the employer

It's not just the employee who can benefit from a successful job sharing situation. Your business could also come out on top if you allow employees this level of flexibility. Some of the core benefits for an employer are: 

  • Retention of high performing employees who are seeking more flexibility due to a change in personal circumstances.
  • A wider, mixed skill-set and a complementary combination of experience and approach.
  • A more relaxed, satisfied and happy workforce - potentially leading to higher productivity and reduced absenteeism.
  • More ability to cover sickness and holiday leave, giving better continuity of cover.

Disadvantages of job sharing for the employer

  • Finding compatible partners may be challenging
  • Replacing a partner who leaves might be difficult
  • The need to ensure that both employees work at least 50% of the time
  • Added supervision effort to monitor two instead of one employee
  • If employees overlap on some days, additional workspace may be required

What's next?

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