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Job sharing: Can it work for your business?

As more and more companies and employees wake up to the various benefits associated with flexible working, the number of workers job sharing is also on the increase. In June 2015, The Guardian reported that 14.1m in Britain want some flexibility when it came to their working hours or location – a figure equivalent to almost half of the working population.

But, like all forms of flexible working, there can be a few hurdles to get through in order for it to be advantageous for everyone involved. This guide highlights the pros and cons of job sharing and offers advice on how you can make it work for you and your business.

What exactly is job sharing?

In a nutshell, job sharing is when two individuals split a role between them, most commonly doing 2.5 days each. If the role in question is particularly time-consuming or demanding, it may require each party to work three days, which allows a crossover day as well as more resource.

The pros and cons of job sharing

This set-up works well for employees in various circumstances. They may want to work part-time in order to raise a child, look after a sick or disabled partner or parent, or take further education. For some, they may want to take semi-retirement or simply to have a better work-life balance.

For employers, job sharing is a great way to benefit from the skills and experiences of two individuals as opposed to one. Unsurprisingly, research has shown that those that work less hours are happier, and happy workers are generally better workers.

So, can it work for you and your business? Well, as long as you have the time and resources to manage two people instead of one, then why not? Some may argue that costs associated with employing more staff, including benefits and holidays, is higher, but remember, much of this can be given on a pro-rata basis.

By not opening up roles to job share candidates, you could be missing out on a large pool of talent, including skilled, working mothers who are eager to return to work on a part-time basis.

Making it work

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Making a job share successful is not quite as simple as cutting a role in half and dividing it between two people; it’s a little more complex than that, but completely viable with the right approach.

First of all, you need to get the right partnership and choose co-workers who can complement one another. Identifying individual strengths and weaknesses is vital, especially when it comes to dividing who does what and when.

They say two heads are better than one, and for that reason, try and stay clear from hiring two clones, and choose people that offer the broadest skillset for your company now, and for where you want to go in the future.

When it comes to performance management, assessing those in a job share can prove tricky. The best way to go about this is to put together a bespoke set of ideal behaviours and targets based on individual skills and responsibilities.

Dividing work

How you divide the work will depend on the role itself, as well as the individual skillsets. Ask yourself, will it work better to simply share the same tasks and split the days, or split responsibilities based on skills and experience? Sit down and come to an agreement that makes both sides happy, and ultimately, the one that works best for the business.

Managing crossover

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Whilst those in a job share may have little crossover time, making sufficient time for them to sit down face-to-face for a handover is vital. Whilst email communication is often convenient, it’s never going to be as thorough as a conference or video call, where ideas, questions or concerns can be thrashed out properly.

Make it seamless

Remember, granting a job share is a privilege, not a given, so it’s important that the whole process is seamless, and colleagues, clients and customers are in no way inconvenienced by the arrangement. You might want to share an email address between two, or prefer to keep them separate, ensuring the two copy one another in to each and every email.

Whatever you decide upon, ensure it’s crystal clear to everyone else how the arrangement works so they know who they need to go to for certain things on certain days. Make sure any important files and documents are all saved to a central drive, making it easy for everyone to access the work; this is especially useful in the event of unexpected absence.

Excel and beat doubters

There’s a relatively common misconception that part-time workers are less-committed than their full-time counterparts, and so the best way to tackle this is by ensuring they are as efficient as can be and excel in the role.

Nobody can argue with hard work done well, and one of the benefits of being part-time is that it’s often easier to maintain a higher energy level over a shorter period of time in the office, so use this to your advantage.

So, there you have your guide to making a job share work. Having a great work life balance is not something everyone is lucky enough to have, and so if you are in a position to offer a job share, grab the bull by the horns and make the most of it; chances are, you will open yourself up to a whole new pool of talent when the time comes to recruit.