Smart organisations are always looking for ways to retain their top talent – and job sharing is an excellent (albeit, little understood) retention strategy, especially when it comes to career-minded women, Endi Frydman, founder of OneJob TwoMinds told Dynamic Business.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of job sharing, it’s where a company employs two people on a part-time basis in a single position, with the responsibilities of the role split between both. Job share partners typically work three days per week including a hand over day.
Job share recruitment and coaching is the core business of OneJob TwoMinds, which Frydman, an executive recruitment consultant and coach, launched in August 2016. The company’s service model involves pairing an employee from a client’s company with a job share partner, should a suitable internal match be unavailable, and coaching the pair to transition them from “I” to “we”. The company already counts Bupa amongst its clients.
Contrary to popular belief, Frydman said job sharing is not limited to junior roles and support functions: “There are many examples of successful job sharing in most role types including CEO, CFO, sales and client-facing roles, leadership and team management roles, strategic and knowledge-based roles and fast-paced or highly transactional roles. Employers are still waking up to the many competitive advantages they can gain through job sharing. Those that offer it in their organisation are progressive, open-minded and employee-centric.”
Frydman spoke to Dynamic Business about the main advantages of job sharing, not only for individuals but businesses too, and the factors that underpin a successful job share arrangement.
Top five advantages for businesses
- You get two minds for one job
“Job sharing is a boon to businesses, particularly SMBs with budget constraints. It enables them to fill one role with two driven individuals, each with their own experiences, networks, knowledge, perspectives and skill sets. With double the intellectual might also comes double the reflection time, which means double the ‘aha’ moments people tend to experience when they’re away from the office. Further, job sharing promotes independence, with job sharers solving problems between themselves. This is especially important in SMBs, where managers are often required to wear many hats – having capable, independent workers frees them up. All in all, when it comes to job share arrangements, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.”
- Greater workplace diversity
“A more diverse workplace translates to diversity of thought, higher levels of creativity and greater innovation, which gives businesses a competitive edge. In fact, recent research from McKinsey has proven that diverse businesses deliver 35% better results than non-diverse businesses.
“Critically, job sharing is an opportunity for businesses to benefit from increased gender equality in the workplace while addressing the shortage of woman in senior leadership. Career interruptions, such as maternity leave, remain one of the largest obstacles to highly skilled and talented women either reaching or retaining seniority. The reality is that staying in, or returning to, full-time work isn’t always feasible once you’ve become a mother.
“Job sharing affords women the flexibility to continue their career trajectory on a part-time basis without sacrificing seniority, fair remuneration or job satisfaction. According to the world economic forum, there is a positive correlation between GDP per capita and gender equality. More equality and balance on boards leads to better performance and share price. Furthermore, it’s been found that higher female workforce participation creates productivity gains in male-dominated sectors.
“It must be noted that mothers aren’t the only beneficiaries of job sharing. Others include fathers who have taken on caregiver roles, people transitioning into retirement, men or women caring for elderly parents and those wanting flexibility to further their study or pursue a passion.”
- Greater productivity
“Owing to the flexible working hours of job share arrangements, each individual has more time to unwind and pursue other interests and passions outside the office, meaning they’re focused, energised and highly productive when at work. An added benefit of job sharing is continual coverage over periods when a job share partner takes annual leave and sick leave, which prevents drop-offs in productivity and reduces stress for colleagues. This gives organisations peace of mind that the responsibilities of the job share role are being managed competently and comprehensively.”
- Improved staff retention, loyalty and morale
“The world of work is changing with more and more individuals seeking greater flexibility across all generational groups. SMBs often can’t afford to lose highly-valuable staff. It is therefore critical for them to create strategies around retaining their employees and supporting them when they come back from a career break with the right opportunity at the right level. It is often unrealistic to expect a critical role to be done well over three days per week. This stress can be eliminated by job sharing. Employees who feel their values are supported are highly satisfied in their roles leading to greater loyalty and productivity and a positive impact on culture.”
“The Fair Work Act 2009 provides employees in the national workplace relations system with a legal right to request flexible working arrangements when the employee has worked for the business for at least 12 months on a full-time or part-time basis. Employers must seriously consider a request for flexible working arrangements and supporting job sharing is one way to facilitate flexible options for staff in an advantageous way for all.”
Top five benefits for employees
- Offers real flexibility
“One of the biggest advantages of job sharing is that the work continues to be done while you are out of the office. Unlike other part-time roles, when you are not in the office you don’t need to stress about work building up and letting down your manager, direct reports, colleagues, clients and stakeholders.”
- Opens flexible senior roles
“The more senior the role, the harder it is to make it part-time given work load demands and stakeholder expectations. Job share is the only arrangement allowing senior employees to work 3-days per week in a senior role while enjoying career development opportunities.”
- Gives opportunity to learn and share
“No other flexible options offer the ability to create a diverse partnership. When companies take the time to match job share partners based on their skill set, motivations and diversity of thinking, it allows both employees to learn and grow together by sharing ideas and challenges. Job sharers always comment that they are continually learning from their job share partner.”
- Increases productivity of roles
“With both job sharers working three days a week, with one crossover day, this increases headcount to 1.2, which therefore raises costs. However, these costs are mitigated by the fact that job sharing increases the productivity of a role by 30%. This is possible by matching complementary skills and having two brains thinking differently about the challenges. Job share partners are also more focused and energised at work since they are there for three days per week. Additionally, all job sharers comment that they don’t miss deadlines as they would never want to let their partner down!”
- Offers continuity and support
“Job share partners develop a great relationship and become very loyal to each other. Every employee goes through ups and downs and job sharers intuitively know when to step up to provide additional support to their partner. When one half of the pair is ill or on holidays, there is peace of mind because at least their partner will be covering the role for 3 days. Many job share partnerships continue beyond the years that they need flexibility as they value the support they receive from their job share partner and they believe that they are better employees together as a team.”
‘Must haves’ for job share success
Frydman said that a common misconception is that job sharing is difficult to manage from an administration perspective and that people will have to repeat themselves and messages will get lost. She explained that when job sharing is established properly and well supported, the ‘reality is absolutely the opposite’.
Frydman identified the following ‘must haves’ for a successful job share arrangement:
- Support: “The success of a job share is dependent on the need for senior managers to be supportive of the arrangement. Research indicates that when management is visibly supportive of new ways of working, this encourages people to consider the option.”
- Education: “To secure buy-in from management, it is necessary to address any misconceptions they may have through education . This should involve an assessment of the feasibility and benefits of the potential job share role.”
- Guidance: “To set job share partners up for success, the role needs to be designed to ensure the best outcome for the individuals as well as the organisation. Employers must also invest in supporting their job sharers with coaching.”
- Advocacy: “Organisations need to publicise successful job share cases as more job share role models and increased visibility of successful case studies will close the gap between perception and reality. When people have seen or heard about successful job share partnerships they’re more likely to be positive about job sharing. In fact, role modelling has been proven to be a highly successful strategy in giving women the confidence to advance their careers whilst juggling family commitments.”
See also: Job sharing enables mums to continue building careers – and their employers benefit too