Job sharing, as the name implies, is when two or more employees share the responsibilities for what would be one full-time job. In a tight labor market, this may be one option to consider if you’re struggling to attract and retain talent. There are, of course, pros and cons of taking this approach. Let’s take a look at those now.
Potential Benefits of Job Sharing
Here are some of the potential benefits of job sharing. Job sharing:
- May allow you to keep more employees hired for longer periods by allowing them flexibility in how their role is completed. Similar to allowing them to take on a part-time role, but without the need to change their role entirely.
- May improve diversity by allowing you to hire and/or keep more people from different backgrounds without excluding those who cannot work full time. One example could be keeping parents in the workforce by allowing this type of arrangement. It may also improve diversity at senior levels if the job sharing program is expanded to include these types of roles.
- Could be a recruitment tool, as it could attract talent that still wants to take on responsibility for an important role, but may not be available or willing to work the hours required for all of that role’s responsibilities. This could include people who are looking for part-time work but want something that is higher on the career ladder. Or people who already have part-time work and want to supplement it. Or those who already perform freelance or contract work and would like to also have the stability of part-time employment (and have experience beyond entry-level roles which are commonly seen in part-time jobs).
- May let you gain more perspectives and innovative ideas by having more than one person fulfill a role.
- May mean employees are less stressed and have fewer miscellaneous absences, as they’re more able to balance life responsibilities separate from the workday. Appointments and other responsibilities can typically be scheduled better without disruption, especially if the employees in question have input into which hours they’ll be working.
- Comes with built-in coverage for vacations or illnesses (within reason). While the second person may not be able to pick up the full role, they will likely be able to ensure nothing critical is missed in the other’s absence.
- Can make hiring easier when one of the employees leaves—there’s already someone in place to train and possibly to cover some of the slack if the role is vacant during the recruiting process.
- Can allow one job to take up more than 40 hours in a work week, without prompting overtime pay.
Potential Drawbacks to Job Sharing
On the other hand, there are of course downsides as well. Here are a few. Job sharing:
- May have greater administrative needs, since there could be more complexity splitting one role’s job responsibilities among multiple people.
- May have a greater chance for frustration, resentment, and accusations of unfair workload if the job is not well managed or if the people sharing it do not get along well. It requires good preparation and transition planning.
- Could increase costs if each employee is given benefits with the organization; this particular setup may be more costly than having a full-time employee in the role.
- Could risk overlooking top talent. The employer may have to work much more proactively with managers to create appropriate employee development plans for those in a job-sharing situation. They may be seen as less committed – even if that’s not the case – which can mean they’re overlooked for promotions. This can be problematic and could lead to losing good talent if not managed well.
- May mean the need for additional training on things like better communication to ensure the job is managed well.
Job sharing isn’t an alien concept, but it’s one that is implemented less frequently than other types of workplace flexibility, especially at senior levels in the organization. Has your organization considered utilizing or expanding the use of job sharing? What has been your experience?