Is Job Sharing Worth the Hype?

We’re untying some of the knottiest problems around job sharing to find that sometimes sharing isn’t always caring. Or is it? Read on to find out what we’ve learned.

What is job sharing?

Telecommuting, flexible working hours, and hybrid working are just some of the ways businesses are providing employees with a bit more flexibility while still maintaining productivity and hitting OKRs. But have you heard of job sharing, the latest hype in alternative working methods?

Job sharing is exactly what it sounds like, a shared job. It’s a form of part-time work where two people complete the work one person would do in a single full-time job. Since alternative work arrangements and New Work practices are becoming more common in modern workplaces, private organizations will likely see more job sharing requests soon. As an employer, you should find out whether this work style would advance your organization too.

Different job sharing models

When two people work in one position, hours vary during the week. They may work together or on altering days. But most importantly, they’ll need to figure out who’s responsible for the position at different times, or if they’ll divide the position based on various tasks. There are two prominent job sharing methods to guide this working arrangement, the twin and island model.

👯The twin model

A twin model involves two employees sharing a position and its workload. They complete the same tasks but on different working days. They’re jointly responsible for all responsibilities and act as a single unit to achieve them.

Regarding working hours, two employees can either work half days or half weeks, depending on company needs and structure. For example, Nancy clocks in from 9 am-1 pm and then Robert from 1 pm-5 pm. In the other case, Nancy works Monday-Wednesday, and Robert works Wednesday-Friday.

🏝️The islands model

The island model implies that two employees share a position but have different work responsibilities. Tasks are divided between the two, allowing both parties to concentrate and specialize in other areas of the role, which takes advantage of each person’s diverse skill set. Typically, employees have little reliance on one another to complete the tasks.

Why job sharing?

Flexible working hours is becoming a must-have for millennial and Gen Z workers, which is precisely what job sharing is intended to do - give flexibility but still get the job done. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of job sharing for both employers and employees.

Job share advantages

  • Teams of two rule! You retain the talents of two valued employees who otherwise might have quit due to work-life balance issues.
  • You can take advantage of the skills that both employees bring to the table. It’s double the brains, creativity, and enthusiasm.
  • Typically employees who are satisfied with their work-life balance experience more work satisfaction. This translates into increased motivation, helpful customer service, and healthy working relationships.
  • Since job sharers are held accountable for one another, they have to find ways to effectively set goals, communicate, and work side-by-side. In turn, this improves their accountability for achievements to the employer.
  • When an employee is on vacation or unable to work, the position is still covered and productive, even if it’s just part-time.
  • In some cases, job sharing goes hand-in-hand with mentoring. Older employees who aren’t ready to fully retire can act as trainers to less-experienced people in the company.

Job share disadvantages

  • There’s a chance that the two people are incompatible regarding working style or attitude.
  • The cost may be higher if you factor in cross-over days, where the worker's time overlaps for better collaboration.
  • Depending on the country, you may need to provide benefits to both employees which can be pricey.

Job sharing can significantly benefit your organization when approached correctly and in the proper context!

Is job sharing something you’d try?

If you’re thinking about incorporating a form of job sharing into your organization, take into account these tips to make sure your transition is as smooth as can be!

Recruit the right people

For job sharing to work well, the right people need to be involved. Job sharers will navigate office drama, have difficult conversations, and work closely on asynchronous tasks. That means they need to be compatible to communicate and collaborate effectively.

Create a plan

Like every new work method, job sharing needs a well-thought-out plan. You should be able to seamlessly answer the following questions:

  1. What job sharing model will you utilize?
  2. When are the hours of work? And are there any overlap periods?
  3. What salary and benefits will you offer?
  4. What is the procedure when one employee is absent?
  5. What communication and collaboration tools and resources will they need?

Make sure leadership is fully onboard

Before offering shared positions, make sure management understands the role of these new employees and is willing to support the needs of the position. Because if leadership isn’t entirely on board, job sharing won’t succeed.

Communicate

Communication from both ends is vital for job sharing success. Employers should clearly define their expectations and goals for the position. Employees should provide information on the mutual progress to direct not only supervisors but also colleagues, clients, and vendors. Stew Friedman, a former senior executive at Ford Motor Company, tells the Harvard Business Review about a time when his direct reports were in a job sharing position:

“What made it work so well was their willingness to go the extra mile to keep me and others informed about how they were coordinating their work; this gave all those involved a sense of confidence and trust that this was a good deal not just for the job-sharers but for our company.”

Whether or not job sharing would work for your organization depends on the position, the people, and your company culture. But with more and more applicants supporting new working methods, it might be a good idea to consider incorporating alternative working arrangements in your line of work.

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FAQ

Want to know more?

What is the definition of job sharing?
Job sharing is when two people contribute part-time work to make up one full-time position. There are different methods to ensure smooth work between the two employees, such as the twin model and the island model.
What is an example of job sharing?
If an employee wants to continue their education, they might consider job sharing, so they have time for work and study.
What are some benefits of job sharing?
The benefits of job sharing for employees are work flexibility and work-life balance. For employers, job sharing ensures that someone is always on the job. And when there’s a problem, two heads find a creative solution.
What are the downsides to job sharing?
For employers, the downsides have more to do with the logistics, such as costs to pay for two part-time workers. If you need to pay for employee benefits, insurance, and taxes depends significantly on your country and region.