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Last updated: June 19, 2023

Flexible working arrangements are fast becoming a deciding factor for many people looking for work. While remote working and flexible hours are two of the more common flexible working arrangements people think of, there are other options available to businesses and employees, such as job sharing.

What is job sharing?

Job sharing is a flexible work arrangement that involves two people sharing the one role. This means two employees will split a full-time position by both working part time (i.e., one employee may work two days a week, while the other works three days).

As the part-time employees are paid on a pro-rata basis, the wage (and leave entitlements) you would otherwise pay a full-time employee is generally split between them. It means the arrangement won’t cost your business any more than it would if you were to employ one full-time staff member for the role.

Can it really work?

Yes. If done right, job sharing can deliver benefits for both employers and employees.

The flexible arrangement enables workers to better balance their work and personal time, which can boost productivity and efficiency. This flexibility also works in both the employees’ and the employer’s favour – if one staff member is unavailable or on leave, the other is often available to help out (whether that’s taking over critical tasks or working extra hours) and ensures a level of consistency you wouldn’t otherwise get. Not to mention, it can go a long way to helping you attract and retain staff.

In the previous edition of our PlusMore newsletter, we ran a poll asking employers if they would consider a job-sharing arrangement. The majority responded that they would, and based on the potential benefits, it’s easy to see why. But before deciding if (and how) it can work for your business, there are a few things to consider:

Make sure you have the right people. Whether you have a current employee who is keen to reduce their working hours, or you have a couple of candidates for the role who are only available to work part time, getting the right people for the role is key to making a job-share arrangement work. So what makes someone the right person? They need to be accountable workers, team players and good communicators.

Make sure everyone is on board. This doesn’t just apply to the employees who are job sharing (that one goes without saying), but it also applies to those in the team who will be working closely with them. Make sure the rest of the team understands what the arrangement is and who is responsible for what tasks.

Set clear expectations and arrangements. How the tasks and responsibilities are divided up between the employees will really depend on the nature of the role and, of course, your business. But however, the tasks are assigned, you need to be absolutely certain all parties know what work they will be focusing on and what their responsibilities are.

… And then tweak them. Don’t be afraid to make changes to the arrangement if something isn’t quite working. Try adjusting responsibilities and tasks as needed to find a way of working that better suits the staff members and the business. One of the key benefits of a job-sharing arrangement is that you have two sets of strengths, skills and ideas in the one role – so don’t be afraid to take advantage of that. You can change things around to make the most of the unique skills each employee brings to the arrangement. Of course, if you do make changes to how the work is assigned or carried out, you need to make sure that everyone is aware of what these changes are and agrees to them.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. It’s important that you keep the communication channels open between yourself and your job-sharing employees. But it’s even more important that they communicate with each other. Job-sharing partners often don’t get to meet regularly face-to-face, so finding other ways for them to communicate is absolutely essential. Whether that’s scheduling regular phone calls to discuss ongoing work, or sending each other wrap-up emails at the end of their working days to keep their job-sharing partner up to speed on what is happening, there needs to be a process in place to ensure they communicate openly and regularly. What’s more, regular communication also allows them to build up a rapport with each other, which will go a long way to making the arrangement a success.

It is certainly possible to make job sharing work, but it won’t suit every role or every employee. So be sure to think it through and carefully consider what you would need to do to make it work before signing yourself and your employees up for a job-sharing arrangement.

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