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How to make a job share work for your business

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
Job shares can have plenty of benefits for businesses. Photo: Getty

The way we work is changing, with more people choosing to become self-employed or work for companies that allow flexibility.

Job sharing — splitting a full-time position into two part-time jobs — is an increasingly popular flexible working arrangement. Not only does this mean splitting hours, but it also entails splitting responsibilities and working closely with someone else.

Job shares can have plenty of benefits for businesses, such as boosting motivation, attracting potential employees, and reducing sick leave. So how can you make them work for your company?

Plan ahead

“As working patterns have become more flexible, job sharing has increasingly become a viable option for employees and even employers,” according to Alan Price, HR expert and operations director at Peninsula Group.

For employers, making a job share successful involves some planning beforehand. “In order for such a programme to succeed, a solid plan must be put in place to ensure that the work gets done properly,” Price said. “Employers must pay close attention to how the system is working. Solid communication between the employer and job sharers, as well as other employees, who are not in the job-sharing programme, is a must.

“Job sharing can seem intimidating to employers, who may fear that it could lead to confusion, more paperwork, and a host of other hassles. If a proper plan is in place and each job sharer is held accountable for his or her duties, these issues can be avoided.”

Make sure the job is shareable

Some jobs are more suited to sharing than others, Price said, adding that not all positions may be filled by two people. Dividing up the job beforehand is also important — some people may split a job by the tasks involved, others share the workload and divide up the days.

“Jobs with clearly defined individual tasks are the best to consider for job sharing,” he said. “Those that are more complex have a tendency of failing under this type of arrangement. Above all, employers have to be committed to the job-sharing programme, as do the employees who are participating in it.”

Choose the right person

It’s crucial to make sure the two people sharing the job can work together closely, which means being able to communicate well, collaborate, disagree without confrontation, and compromise. Two people sharing a job means having conversations about work, personal matters, and more, so it’s important to make sure people are compatible.

Although it might be tempting to pick two very similar people to work together, it can be beneficial to pick people who are different, but have skills, abilities, and personalities that complement each other. It’s also good to pick two people who can bring differing experiences to a job.

“In a job share, neither employee will have things his or her way,” Price said. “Compromise and learning new ways of working together is required or customers and co-workers may experience confusion and uncertainty.”

Recognise the benefits

Job sharing also gives employees more time off, a commodity that’s in short supply when raising a family or caring for relatives. “It also offers something that part time and flexible working can’t. With job sharing, there is always someone on hand,” Price said.

“Job sharing offers small businesses a chance to retain valued employees who are either approaching retirement or starting families and would consider leaving if more flexible options were not made available.”

“It can also be a useful way of avoiding compulsory redundancies, a more empowered and motivated workforce, increased staff retention and attractiveness to potential employees, and reduced levels of sickness absence.”

Entrepreneur Colleen Wong, founder of Techsixtyfour and My Gator Watch, said she uses job shares to attract employees who want flexible working.

“I wanted to attract other parents, carers, or anyone else who wished to work, but might not have had the opportunity as the jobs on offer had hours that were too long or too rigid,” Wong said.

“Our customer service team includes two mums based in the UK and two in Canada — all have children under 10 years old. Together they cover the hours needed to answer any questions from customers.

“I have two people on each shift in case one needs to be with their children, is ill, or has other things going on that they have to deal with. I rely on them to speak to each other to ensure that at least one person can answer customer queries at all times.”