Job sharing – a new form of employment model that’s geared for a modern, globalized world. For many workplaces, conventional working arrangements consist of full time or part-time employees fulfilling a single role or need. However, many workplaces are beginning to adopt a job sharing model designed to split a role, or a number of roles, between multiple employees.
These types of flexible workspaces can be extremely beneficial to employees and employers looking to cut staffing costs and further the overall goals of the business. There’s a variety of reasons to agree to a job sharing arrangement, whether they be personal or professional in nature. But what exactly is job sharing and is it the right fit for you or your business?
Here’s what we’ll cover
What Is Job Sharing?
The job sharing definition is the arrangement of splitting a full-time position into two part-time positions. Job sharing can also define the process of splitting numerous positions between multiple employees. For example, splitting two sales roles between three salespersons.
This type of working arrangement is designed to create a flexible and collaborative work environment and can be beneficial to both employers and employees. While job sharing arrangements are still relatively rare in private industries, it is very common for government organizations, schools, health care and startups to have such arrangements in their workplace.
In many of these arrangements, jobs are categorized on 0.1 to 1.0 scale, often differentiated by 0.1 increments. This scale is a numerical reference to the number of hours an employee works out of a standard work week (often assumed to be 40 hours). For example, a 0.5 FTE employee would be an employee who works 50% of regular work week hours. In a job sharing agreement, the remaining 50% of this role is shared with either another 0.5 employee or a group of employees who cumulatively fill the entire work week hours.
For employers, this type of setup can be incredibly useful in maintaining an efficient work environment and keeping staff costs manageable. In stressful working environments or environments with significant physical or mental hardship, this type of job sharing allows employees important time to rest and maintain longevity in their role.
As an employer, these types of job sharing can make a significant difference in budgeting due to the fact that part-time roles require less investment in benefits, paid sick leave and vacation time. This alone is often enough for employers to consider flexible working environments such as job sharing. Today, this model of employment is also a viable alternative to laying off employees.
As we discussed above, this is especially true in government organizations that offer significant non-monetary compensation and therefore see this employment method as a way to manage their various staffing groups.
Should You Consider Job Sharing?
There are a number of job sharing benefits that motivate an individual to explore job-sharing in lieu of standard full time employment. For many, the increased flexibility of job sharing roles is enough to counterbalance the potential cons of the arrangement. A wide variety of people who may benefit from job sharing could include:
- Parents who are looking to spend more time at home with their children
- Individuals who may be caring for a relative or other dependent
- Individuals with multiple jobs or creative endeavours
- Anyone looking to work less than full time work week hours
There are a number of job sharing considerations that contribute to overall success and positive experience of a job share arrangement. The success of many job sharing roles relies heavily on the ability of the individuals sharing the job to work collaboratively and effectively together. This includes a significant investment in communication and transparency between work partners.
For many individuals, their overall experience in a job sharing arrangement is largely based on their working relationship with their job partner. This type of heavy interpersonal working style is not for everyone, and something everyone should consider before accepting a job share style role.
Employment sharing, alongside telecommuting is just one of the ways workplaces are modernizing. Learn more about what telecommuting is and why it’s a great incentive in “What is Telecommuting and What Are The Benefits?”
Job Sharing Pros and Cons
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Pro – More Creativity, Ideas And Problem Solving
One of the greatest advantages of job sharing is the additional brain power that two people bring to the role. When this working relationship is well structured, having two employees filling a single role can bring more ideas, creativity and perspectives.
When challenged with a difficult project or task, having various perspectives and ideas can really create innovative solutions and outcomes. This can be beneficial for roles that require problem solving, creativity, brainstorming for the organization or clients, or strategic planning positions.
This type of collaborative working environment is becoming increasingly common amongst the younger generations of the workforce. This generational shift is contributing to the growing number of startups making flexible agreements like job sharing a major perk in hiring young talent.
Con – Varying Opinions Can Hinder Progress
On the flip side, having two opinions and perspectives can often have a negative impact on a shared employment role. When the individuals in this role disagree about a certain problem or process, it can be difficult to move forward towards a solution.
This problem can become particularly exasperated when job sharing parties do not have a positive working relationship or can’t come to a compromise solution. This type of work stress can have a profound impact on your organization’s work culture and may lead to greater turnover of employees.
For many potential employees, the worry about this type of workplace conflict can quickly defer them from accepting a job sharing role.
Pro – Increased Flexibility and Smooth Transitions When Employees Are Away
One of the greatest assets in workplaces that adopt flexible working arrangements is a flow of knowledge across job sharing roles. If a critical role has two people sharing it, the knowledge and understanding of that role is more likely to continue on should one person leave or be away for any number of reasons.
In many organizations where employees operate in siloed positions, there is often a knowledge vacuum or knowledge gap. For example, if an accountant who pays all of a company’s invoices to a certain vendor is unexpectantly away and no one else in the company knows how to pay these specific invoices, it may delay production or cause significant administrative backlogs.
Through the inherent knowledge sharing process that’s integrated into job sharing roles, this problem is significantly diminished leading to an organization’s greater overall resiliency and productivity.
Con – Having to Pay Double When Employees Need to “Cross Over” For Collaboration
Another challenge facing employers is when employees who may be sharing a role need to collaborate or work on projects together in person. This would require an employer to pay both employees for the time they are working together, increasing his or her overall personnel costs.
For larger organizations, this may not seem like a detrimental expense, but for small businesses, this type of “cross over pay” sometimes required in a job-sharing role can be very costly and impactful on their overall staffing costs.
Key Takeaways On Job Sharing
Job sharing can be an effective working style for many organizations and their employees. The increased work-life balance and flexible working style can benefit many employees with personal circumstances that may cause challenges in fulfilling a full-time role.
However, job sharing is not without its challenges and it is important to understand the strong interpersonal skills required for such a role. We recommend taking a close look at your personal skills, attributes and working style in determining if a job sharing arrangement is right for you and your career.