As flexible working arrangements become more prominent, there is one option which is vastly underutilised but could have a lot of potential: job sharing.
Two employees sharing one role is a great solution for both employees seeking better work-life balance, as well as employers looking to attract, retain and engage quality talent.
But what does this mean in practice? What are the definitive benefits of transitioning to a job sharing arrangement? We answer all of your burning questions and more! Let’s start with employee benefits before transitioning to employer benefits.
What are the benefits of job sharing?
For the Employee
Increased Flexibility & Better Work-Life Balance
With the majority of the workforce comprising millennials (GenY) since 2015, the pursuit for work-life balance (or work-life jenga depending on who you ask) has been at an all time high, even pre COVID-19.
With the occurrence of the pandemic though, we’ve witnessed this desire spreading across all generations. This is the first time in a very long time (if ever) that an event has impacted the entire global workforce to reconsider their priorities.
With that in mind, job sharing offers the ability to split your time so as to dedicate more of it towards the activities that bring you joy. Whether it’s to volunteer for causes you care for, take up leisure activities such as sports and hobbies, start a side hustle or spend more time with family and loved ones, job sharing gives you the opportunity to work and have a career whilst also pursuing other interests.
At the end of the day, job sharing is a savvy way to keep your career on track, even as you reduce your hours. It’s a win win should you wish to get the best of both worlds.
Better Physical & Mental Health
Naturally with a better work-life balance and more flexibility comes the ability and time to take better care of oneself.
If the pandemic has done anything, it has reminded us that our health is fragile and a crucial asset to take care of. With job sharing, you will have more time to exercise, meditate, read, rest, and do all other activities that benefit both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Job sharing has also shown to lower stress levels as responsibilities are shared.
This is true day to day, but also when you need to take leave. With many people currently not taking sick, personal or carer’s leave for fear of being seen as “weak” and as such, less “valuable”, job sharing helps by ascertaining that there is always someone available with that skill set.
This means that both the employee can take the proper time to take care of themselves or those under their care, whilst the employer can rest easy knowing that the work will still be done.
More Learning & Growth Opportunities
Sharing a job with another person gives you the rare opportunity to learn from a peer as well as teach and share your own knowledge, or even mentor.
Under a twins model, very much like usual group work or inter team collaboration, different brains, perspectives and experiences are joined as one to solve a problem. In consequence, you will naturally develop a heightened capacity to broaden your mindset as well learn from your partner.
On the other hand, the extra time you gain can also be used to study so as to continue to learn and grow as an individual.
If you’ve ever dreamed of going back to school or university to study a new subject, of changing careers or just bettering your existing skill set within your industry, job sharing could be the golden solution for you to do so whilst still earning money.
Besides the obvious advantages for employees, job-sharing also presents many benefits for the employer.
For the Employer
Agility & Responsiveness to Market Change
The COVID-19 crisis has shaken the status quo and put many businesses on edge, pushing them to rethink their business models in order to recover. As part of this exercise, many businesses will also need to adapt to the ever evolving (and growing) talent market.
For many, the crisis was a wake up call, pushing them to question and reassess their priorities in life. More specifically, being pushed to work remotely from home, many employees across the globe have experienced the devastating impacts and ripple effects from lack of work-life balance.
Now that the lines between home and work are blurred, and since remote work is here to stay, employees are set to favour further flexibility over a bigger salary when considering a new offer.
By remaining agile and considering evolving to include more diverse sets of roles and working arrangements within your business, you’ll hence be able to keep up with market trends and ride the current crisis wave.
With hundreds of millions of people worldwide having lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no doubt companies will have their pick of choices when hiring.
Yet, although unemployment rates are rising, talents (especially niche talent and executives) are still reported to be quite picky in their selection. Perhaps even more so than before.
From flexibility at work to health & wellbeing benefits, the current workforce is looking for a more comprehensive set of benefits, beyond the usual monetary ones.
In such an environment, job sharing, like other flexible work arrangements, can help businesses recruit experienced workers who are looking for greater work-life balance.
To illustrate our point, a survey from FlexJobs reported that 84% of working parents said work flexibility is the number one most important factor in a job. And this is just one portion of the population.
In addition, shared work represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to diversify their workforce. By creating more part-time opportunities, a business will be able to open its doors to a number of profiles that are usually closed off to the job market such as primary carers, professionals wishing to study, older employees as well as the differently abled to name but a few.
Employee Retention & Progression
Employees are often attracted to job sharing when working full-time becomes a challenge or a constraint.
In this case, companies that don’t offer such types of arrangements risk losing skilled workers. By offering more flexible working arrangements, not only do they give themselves higher chances of keeping precious talents (which saves them time and money searching for a new person), but they also rise in their employees’ esteem.
To support this, another study from Flexjob has shown that 80% of employees stated they would be more loyal to their employer if it offered job flexibility, and more than half said they have already tried to negotiate flexible work with their employer.
Flexible working arrangements have also been reported to largely be responsible in keeping good talent for longer. This survey reveals that 51% of workers with rotating schedules have been at their current job for three years or more.
Whilst talent retention is a major benefit for your business, this doesn’t happen by accident. Offering opportunities for growth and progression are very much intertwined in keeping staff happy and engaged.
When we know that 82.39% of employees say a lack of progression would influence their decision to leave their jobs, it’s clear that offering progression to employees is essential for retention.
With job sharing, talent progression is inevitable as job share partners have the opportunity to learn from one another and are also in a position to mentor.
Improved Productivity, Engagement & Job Satisfaction
By nature, job sharing entails gaining two brains for the price of one. In simple terms, this means double the enthusiasm, double the creativity and double the skill set. This naturally has a tremendous impact on productivity.
Furthermore, job sharers also tend to be more focused during working hours than full-time employees. This is simply because they have an outlet outside of work as well as have more time to take care of all personal matters. And since job sharing employees have a lot more control over their working time, their motivation and engagement are also greatly increased.
Moreover, job share partners tend to be more productive and engaged at work because they are held accountable to each other. Since they must plan, set goals, communicate effectively and measure accomplishments together, both parties will put their all into their work.
In addition to this, when employees feel they are being heard and their needs are being met, they are more likely to commit and give their best selves at work. This creates engaged and happy employees who not only work harder, but also better.
Transfer & Retain Knowledge in House
Intergenerational job sharing, pairing a young or new colleague with a senior employee, not only supports both generations in their desire to balance work and their private lives, but also fosters the transfer of experience and knowledge within your organisation.
In fact, with COVID-19, we predict there being more and more senior managers opting for job sharing (or top sharing as some call it) so as to be able to pursue other interests.
Since good executive talent is hard to come by, offering flexible work arrangements will once again help your business retain senior and experienced professionals and attract younger hungry young professionals looking to learn.
Further to this, job sharing can also be combined with mentoring. For instance, employees who aren’t quite ready to retire but who want to reduce their hours could job share, allowing them to mentor and pass on institutional knowledge to their less-experienced colleagues.
All in all, this is a win-win for your business, as in both cases you benefit from having cross generational collaboration as well as promote internal knowledge sharing which means you retain expertise in-house, saving you time, resources and money.
Improved Diversity & Inclusion
Job sharing offers many opportunities for employers to cultivate diversity within their business. But why is this beneficial in the first place?
Although “workplace diversity” sounds a lot like jargon, in reality, diversity should be a major goal for every company. And it’s not just about your reputation or some lofty social goal of “inclusion” either (although those are really important).
No, a diverse workforce has many immediate and tangible benefits to you, your company and its bottom line.
Diversity has been found to increase productivity and creativity, improve cultural awareness and insights, result in faster problem solving as well as boost profits among many other things.
So now that we understand why increased diversity is a benefit, let’s look at how job sharing can help get there.
As stated previously, job sharing creates more part-time opportunities, and as such will attract talents that wouldn’t usually go for full-time positions. This includes but isn’t limited to working parents, professionals wishing to study, older employees as well as the differently abled to name but a few.
By offering this opportunity, your business will be looking at widening the scope of people it usually hires. And since these employees all view the world differently, they will apply their personal circumstances and experiences to contribute unique perspectives to benefit your company.
Reduced Absenteeism & Better Job Continuity
Because of their complimentary skills, job sharers can cover for each other during holiday leave or when one is ill. This means their shared position is covered at least half of the time, if not full time.
Not only does this improve work continuity and coverage but it also means that there is a continuity of skills and knowledge in the case one decides to leave.
Speaking of leaving, replacing a job sharer can seem daunting, but this could actually be much easier than replacing a usual employee. As the job, responsibilities and knowledge are shared by 2 people, when one leaves the other is still there, ready to vet the new job sharer during the hiring process as well as train them over a few months rather than the weeks you’re sometimes allocated with a regular employee.
Very much like a buddy program, the new job sharer will have a go to person that knows the job and company inside out for all of their questions. This is a huge plus to the onboarding process, giving it more chances for success.
Offer Continuous Uninterrupted Service for Customers
In the same vein as the above point, not only does job sharing provide your business and teams ongoing coverage across a particular role or need throughout the work week, it also gives you the opportunity to do so for clients as well.
By having two or more staff members sharing the same responsibilities, your business is able to offer your customers continuous and uninterrupted service, which is a huge plus in today’s world.
This works particularly well when your business or industry requires you to offer 24h support or has critical and timely deliverables. By introducing a job sharing arrangement, you’ll have the ability to have an in-country support team whilst still covering more hours within a day.
Although not all businesses operate under a ‘shift work’ style model, this could also serve as a template in the job sharing context, to maximise flexibility and ensure coverage over longer periods.
For instance, a workday could be split into two shifts – 7am-3pm and 2pm-10pm – with each job share partner working one shift, and with one hour of overlap for handover between shifts.
All things considered, job sharing presents many benefits for both employers, employees and even customers. But, like with most new things in life, it can be daunting to consider and implement.
This is why, before making the jump, you’ll want to set out a plan and consider all aspects of offering such an arrangement. From “what to expect” to “how to manage job sharers”, the more you prepare, the better the outcome!