Having the right resources in place to run your business properly is at the top of every manager’s priority list. When it comes to staff, flexible working arrangements are now commonplace to benefit both the company and its employees. Part-time working, flexi-hour shift allocations, working from home etc – there are many different ways you can tailor your HR resources to fit operational needs.
Job sharing is one form of flexible working. This is a more permanent arrangement whereby two employees agree to share the duties and responsibilities of one full time job between them. Wages, other benefits and leave entitlements will all be shared on a pro rata basis. Job sharing is often a popular way for mums returning to work after a career break to achieve a realistic work-life balance that enables them to juggle their family commitments with the demands of a skilled job.
From a business point of view, job sharing can have a number of benefits too. Two people will bring a wider range of skills and experience, approaches and fresh ideas to the job than one person can. It is easier to keep the team stimulated and motivated with two people bringing energy to the role.
That said, devising a job share role will require a bit more thought than simply appointing a single full-time staff member, so here are 5 steps to help you approach it properly.
- Decide on job share criteria
While the general assumption is that a job share is a 50/50 split of one job between two people, it doesn’t have to be this black and white. Think about the background and experience of both people in question. Could the role be tailored to take advantage of each person’s strength?
The weekly hours will typically be shared according to each employee’s availability. One common practice is to split the week into Monday to Wednesday, and Wednesday to Friday, often with a bit of overlap time on Wednesdays to facilitate the handover. This is a great working pattern for job sharers in senior positions and in jobs where continuous cover is essential.
It may also be advantageous for the two employees to swap their working days, say, every 6 months so that each person gets a complete overview of the business including the days when they would not normally be on duty.
- Clarify line management issues
For job sharers in management positions, there’s an added layer of responsibility to be shared. Joint team management requires effective communication and collaboration regarding individual staff performance and any issues arising from that. Team members, in turn, will need to be clearly informed which of the two managers each person is reporting to, or both.
Positive team working is particularly important in a job share situation. Trust and reliance on the other person to do a great job and mutual support to achieve the best possible results are key ingredients to successful job sharing.
- Have clear communication channels
As mentioned above, good communication is fundamental to getting a job share to work productively. Everyone involved, whether they’re reporting to job sharing managers, or managing job sharers in their team, should know exactly what to do.
Have a set handover procedure that everyone adheres to; working handovers must run smoothly so that nothing falls through the cracks. Devise an effective way to share information, write messages to each other, copy the other person in, contact the other job share partner in emergencies etc so that both people are always equally up to speed with all developments.
- Draw up unambiguous employment contracts
As an employer, your contract is with the individual employee, which means drawing up two contracts – one for each job sharer. Each contract of employment must state the hours worked, the working relationship with the other job share partner, and the level of flexibility agreed.
It is a good idea to confirm unequivocally in the contract that the salary is per person and based on individual performance, not on that of the team, and that the individual won’t be penalised in case of underperformance by the job share partner.
Here’s an example of a job share employment contract for download.
- Make provisions for additional flexibility
Finally, it’s important to agree with both job sharers the extent to which they can be called upon to be more flexible in their working hours than their regular job share arrangement, should the business demand it.
Could the partners cover each other’s annual leave or sickness absence? What about particularly busy periods or important company events when it’s crucial that everyone is present? There may be occasions when both job share partners need to be available at the same time.