In today’s hectic business world, people try cramming as much into their work day as possible. When employees are trying to finish all the tasks on their to-do lists, 40-hour work weeks can easily morph into 45 or 50 – and work can intrude on their leisure time.
To ease the stress of not having enough free time, some employees look to job sharing – the process of splitting one full-time job between two people – in order to take back control of their lives. Employees who job share often cite “quality of life” issues as the main reason they only want to work part-time. After weighing the amount of time they spent at work against the amount of time they were able to spend on leisure activities, they opted to work less so they could enjoy life more.
Other job sharers cite the need or desire to take care of children or ageing parents as reasons to work part-time. Still others choose part-time work for health reasons. Whether it’s to cope with chronic stress or other medical issues, working half-time could literally be a lifesaver for some people.
Meeting employee and company needs
If you have employees interested in a job sharing arrangement, what can you do to ensure the successful execution of a full-time job shared by two people? First, two needs must be met: the needs of your business and the needs of your employees. Both of you have to buy into the concept that more than one person can adequately cover the tasks of one full-time job.
In addition, both employees who join forces to fill this full-time job must be willing to exert maximum effort to ensure that this work model succeeds. Of course, that’s usually the case because both employees are so pleased they’ve found a working situation that fits their needs that they’re extremely motivated to make it work.
Motivated workers are productive workers; and productive workers are satisfied workers. So, having a fully functioning job sharing programme can be a win-win situation for both your business and your employees.
Potential pitfalls – and solutions
There are negatives. The most common one is the “who’s in charge” syndrome. Without clear and close co-ordination between the job sharers, neither the employees nor the boss know exactly who’s responsible for what part of the shared job. This can easily lead to confusion, decreased productivity, and dissatisfied workers and supervisors.
To avoid this situation, each employee must do what nurses have long ago realised is crucial: every day, at the beginning and end of each shift, they have to carve out time to fully inform the person taking over for them about the tasks in progress and any critical needs they’ll have to address that day. If your workers don’t do this properly, information may be lost and/or misinformation may be communicated.
Another potential problem involves other employees. Make sure other employees and managers understand exactly when each member of the job sharing team will be working. This way, other individuals will know when to contact each of the job sharers. Of course, everyone won’t always remember who’s in on which day or which part of the day. Distributing a written schedule will help, as will timely email messages and notes, keeping information clear and up to date.
The final potential challenge of implementing a job sharing programme is this: the two employees sharing the job will not always be available to respond to an inquiry because they won’t be physically present. So if another employee needs to speak with the job sharer and that person isn’t in, the result could be a delay in communication or productivity. To eliminate this problem, you might have your job sharers agree to be contacted at home on their “off” day in the event of an emergency.
A job sharing programme is an excellent way to offer your valued employees a means to have the best of both worlds: to continue working in a job they love, and giving them more time for personal activities. If you want to hang on to your top staff members, this might be one way to offer them an option that can make all of you happy.