One of my passions is helping people to Thrive in their current line of work. Attuned to conversations all around me, there are clearly a lot of people who are surviving, rather than thriving, in their work.

Many people claim they’d love to work part-time hours, and some already do today. Yet this isn’t always easy in practice due to the role, the employer or for financial reasons. And for those that do, the reality is not always quite what was anticipated or intended at the start. There either seems to be too much to do or the work itself isn’t entirely fulfilling.

 

Job sharing as a possible solution

Just imagine that you work part-time hours. But, unlike many part-time roles, you have a fulfilling and well-paid role which makes appropriate use of your skills and experience. There is someone you know and trust to pick up the work while you’re not there. And, in addition, you get to choose who you partner with.

Does this sound too good to be true? If so, a job sharing arrangement could be of interest to you. Read on.

Traditional solutions

Research indicates that solutions that have evolved to tackle some of the challenges of modern life, including flexible working and part-time work, are not always optimal for someone seeking to work less than full-time hours.

Flexible working

Flexible workingis a way of working to help address employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. All UK employees have the legal right to request flexible working via a statutory application. It’s not just for parents and carers.

Although employers need to give flexible working consideration, in practice requests are not always accepted or well-regarded by employers.

Flexible working hours may translate to longer working days, if there isn’t a deliberate attempt by the employer and employee to actively manage tasks and scheduling.

Flexible working, including the use of technology, can exacerbate the work-life conflict in some cases. This may not ironically be suitable for someone with childcare or other care responsibilities.

Part-time

A part-timeworker is someone who works fewer hours than a full-time worker, generally regarded as less than 35 contracted hours.

In theory, it seems to be the optimal solution for finding a better balance between work and childcare, sports, self-care or other aspirations for employees, but the reality isn’t always perfect.

Some women become stuck in low-grade part-time careers, from which they don’t manage to ramp up to full-time. They may also be penalised in terms of income, career progression and even pensions contributions, which may not be apparent until later on.

Many men who would like to reduce their working hours shy away from requesting part-time, due to its reputation of being career-limiting and mainly for women, for administrative and support tasks.

Furthermore, many part-timer workers report that they have to squeeze in a full-time job into less hours, as there isn’t any thought put in how to accommodate the request for reduced working time for the specific role.

 

Job sharing as alternative

Job sharing is an arrangement where (typically) two people work on a part-time or reduced-time basis to deliver the continuity in a role normally fulfilled by one person working full-time.This can offer a great solution for those who wish to improve their work-life balance or who need to reduce working hours from a full-time job for any number of reasons.  It can also help them to hold a position which matches their experience and qualifications.

Job share arrangements often start on the basis of 2.5 or 3 days per week each, but can extend to more days if it’s working well, and desired by employees and employers alike.

 

Win-win solution

When set up successfully, there are clear benefits of job sharing for employees and employers alike.

Benefits to employees

  • reduced working hours coupled with challenging work
  • maintaining one’s career progression at all stages of life
  • easier to switch off when you’re not at work
  • knowing that there is a back-up at work in case of family emergencies
  • helps to reduce sickness, stress and the risk of burnout

Benefits to employers

  • full-time continuity rather than having to arrange meetings & work around people
  • get two heads for one role, with the added brain power this brings
  • increased diversity and innovation in teams
  • 30% increase in productivity by job sharing partners
  • as job sharing employees have a lot of control over their working time, their motivation and engagement are also greatly increased.
  • offering job sharing at all levels can help employers attract and retain talent, reduce absenteeism and the risk of burnout
  • it’s really about good business sense, rather than compromise: job sharing outperforms full-time and part-time working by increasing productivity, as well as >10% in engagementand 15% in wellbeing

Job sharing also fosters transparency, collaboration and knowledge sharing, which are all indispensable for the success of organisations.

 

Who could be interested by job sharing?

Many people would like to figure out a better way to balance work with other domains of life. These are all very likely candidates for job sharing roles:

  • parents of young children
  • senior professionals desiring to gradually wind down towards the end of their careers
  • employees who wish to start a business while maintaining the security of a paid job
  • those with side hustles and other business interests who aren’t quite ready to relinquish work altogether
  • those wanting to pursue part-time study alongside work
  • workers with illnesses or caring responsibilities
  • young people not wanting to be fully tied to one employer

With the ageing population and today’s workforce, job sharing is expected to gain popularity in the near future.

 

How to get started?

You may get lucky, but finding a suitable job share opportunity could be challenging. However, there are a number of solutions that could help you.

Ginibee

Ginibeeis an award-winning UK basedjob share platform.  Ginibee’s Talent Partnering approach accelerates candidate-led Talent Partnering (as they refer to job sharing) during recruitment.

Their unique platform-driven partnering saves you time finding matches and empowers motivated candidates to pair up and form full-time Talent Partnerships, supported by Ginibee’s unique and proven candidate-led partnering process.

For more info of how Job Sharing or Talent Partnerships work for you personally or your organisation, check out the various case studies within GiniBee

Maike Van Owen’s research paper“Job sharing – Insights on Effective Partnerships” is also worth reading to learn more.

 

Job sharing for success

There seem to be a few key criteria required for successful job sharing and ultimately to extend this great flexible working opportunity more globally. These have been inspired by a recent Forbes article.

  1. National legislation plays a big part

Countries where job sharing works fluidly is where there is either a very flexible understanding of working time (like in the UK) or working time legislation has been reformed (like in Germany and Switzerland), which permits the flexibility around part-time work.

Countries like France, where part-time work is both culturally and legally strictly boxed in have virtually no job sharing.

  1. Job sharing is aligned with where the modern world of work is going including portfolio careers

To become or remain successful, companies need to become more open, more innovative, more flexible and more digital. Job sharing is both harnessing and amplifying these characteristics.

  1. Job sharing doesn’t work without senior leadership buy-in

Job sharing requires a mindset change and a lot of trust and transparency. The UK based The Jobshare Project offers testimonies and resources to support you in embarking on this exciting journey into the new forms of work.

One of the main fears of employers is what happens when one of the partners leaves the pair, so embedding a way of nurturing and sustaining partnerships is key.

  1. The strength of the partnership is key

According to Sara Horsfall, founder of Ginibee, she has found that successful job sharing at senior levels is linked to the strength of the partnership between those working together.

 

Wrap-up

Job sharing offers a viable alternative to optimum fulfilment and a greater work life balance than some solutions such as flexible working and part-time hours.

Just imagine partnering closely with someone you trust, whether you’re at work or not at work. It certainly sounds like one way of thriving in your current line of work.

 

Thanks for reading. Check out other Blue Diamond articles to help you take control of your work and life.