Imagine a job position where you only had to report to work a couple days out of the week. Then, despite your absence, the work still miraculously got done. Well, that idea not so far-fetched. In fact, it’s entirely possible with a concept called job sharing. Job sharing can be a great thing for both employees and the small businesses they work for. Furthermore, as we are trying to make our way through this pandemic, job sharing might just be the perfect answer to a lot of questions. After all, desperate times call for flexible measures.
So, let’s dive into this idea of job sharing. Perhaps this will be a way for you to utilize employees in the capacity they are available, while still accomplishing the goals for your company.
What is job sharing?
Now, job sharing is just what it sounds like: two people sharing the responsibilities of a single role. When job sharing, employees work a total of hours that add up to the amount of time in a full-time position. However, each employee is a part-time employee. Employees will divide the workload between the two of them in order to get all tasks done according to the requirements of the position.
What kind of employee is the best candidate for job sharing?
There are a number of types of employees that are good candidates for job sharing. Below are some situations with employees who could be good candidates for splitting duties and collaborating as a team.
Employees nearing retirement often enjoy a phased-out approach to their careers. Therefore, job sharing can be the perfect option for someone who has expressed plans to retire, but still has a few years of work left.
Employees who need flexible arrangements to care for family could benefit from job sharing. Good candidates for this include parents with small children, people who have ailing parents, or people with disabled family members. Additionally, if necessary, employers could get creative to create job sharing positions as alternatives to full-time work during COVID. That way, employees could work in a reduced capacity in order to recover (if their condition allows them to work at all) or to care for ill family members.
Employees who are working two part time jobs are becoming increasingly more common. While some people do it out of necessity, others do it because they genuinely enjoy both jobs, and they don’t want to have to choose between the two. Rather than hiring a freelance worker or subcontractor for situations like this, employers can create job sharing positions to appeal to employees who prefer two part-time jobs.
Employees who are pursuing a degree could really benefit from job sharing. Anyone who has pursued a degree simultaneously while working knows the challenges they can face with time constraints. It can be very overwhelming to be dedicated to both earning a degree and meeting the demands of the job. So, job sharing can be the best of both worlds.
Employees who want to work, but not in a full-time capacity would be great candidates for job sharing. These workers are often looking for less stressful work lives, and that is precisely what pairing with another employee can offer.
As you can see, job sharing can be the answer to so many struggles for employees who need just a little more flexibility in their workday, or to have a better work/life balance.
How does job sharing affect small businesses?
Job sharing undoubtedly has many benefits for small businesses, so there are some things you need to consider.
First, offering job sharing can help employers retain employees they might otherwise lose to other positions within the company, or to other companies altogether. So, if you feel you are on the verge of losing someone you really want to keep, considering putting a combined role on the table.
Second, as employees become more dedicated to self-care, they will be more likely to take time off. Know that taking PTO is a good thing and can actually improve employee performance. So, encourage employees to take the time they need! Job sharing can keep the duties in motion, even if one person is absent.
Third, job sharing can keep key employees from being the guardians of the company information. We all know the person—she is the go-to for any question, and there’s nothing she doesn’t know the answer to. If anything were to happen to her, the company would be up a creek without a paddle. So, collaborating closely with other employees can allow that person to pass on information so that more people within the company are armed with the tribal knowledge needed to continue operations.
How does an employer create a job sharing position?
Employers should approach job sharing with a flexible mind. After all, it is intended to make employees’ lives more flexible, so it shouldn’t make employers’ lives more rigid.
Be purposeful about pairing employees for job sharing. It’s important that employees have compatible skillsets, but they also need to have compatible personalities. Don’t be afraid to let employees choose who they would want to partner with. On the flipside, if you are concerned about awkward situations with employees choosing their own partners, you can take matters into your own hands and do the pairing for them. When doing the pairing yourself, remember that sometimes opposites do attract, and that it’s good to choose partners who will balance each other out.
Divide and Conquer
While job sharing is a matter of dividing duties for the same role, the duties might not be evenly divided. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. In fact, nothing says the duties need to be divided evenly, because employees aren’t necessarily going to even work the same number of hours, although they can. Therefore, it is important to remember to be flexible with this aspect of job sharing, as well.
One thing the employer and employees need to be mindful of is communication. The job-sharing pair should be in constant communication, remembering that they are a team, and that their roles are deeply intertwined—basically to the point of being one. So, there can’t be any lapse in communication, otherwise the disconnect could be catastrophic, depending on the industry. So, make sure the left hand is always talking to the right hand when job sharing.
Get It in Writing
Regardless of whom you decide to pair together and how you decide to divide up the responsibilities, make sure to get it in writing. It’s a good idea to be very specific about how the duties will be completed so that if there was ever a question, both employees and employer would have something to refer back to.
Job Sharing to Improve Your Business
When it’s all said and done, job sharing can benefit your business and your employees. Whether your employees are looking for fewer hours due to family responsibilities, working for multiple companies, or pursuing a degree, job sharing is a great way to allow them to still work for you, but on an abbreviated schedule. No matter what, make certain you properly document the responsibilities of the job-sharing role in writing. Also, as an employer, be sure to foster an environment of constant and open communication between job sharers. Finally, be open to employees who come to you with a request to job share. Even if you aren’t entirely sure about how it can work, you’ll never know unless you try, so it’s worth giving it a go.