The reason you need to change the way you think about job shares

Posted on 25th July 2018

Admit it, the moment I mentioned job share your mind went to lower level roles such as receptionist. You’re not alone; there is a perception that job shares only fit a number of roles or situations within a company. I think that there is a place for job share in most organisations and roles, regardless of hierarchy. In our business environment that is constantly evolving and asking more of us as individuals, why would you not want to share the responsibility while providing a more robust and flexible service?

There are many issues that can affect a job share situation. Get it right from the start and the benefits in terms of output, resilience and quality could outweigh the negatives.

As business owners and managers, we already know the benefit that team work within our businesses. So if we start to look at job share as team working and manage it in much the same way then I think it would be used more often. We also know that we want to select the best person for the role. But what happens if there is a pool of five or six people with the best skills that you are not selecting because they want to work part time? Are you forcing yourself into selecting second best because you think the role can only be done in a certain way? What about a redundancy situation? You don’t want to lose any of your employees, so what about a job share? You could lose no-one, leaving you the option to increase hours again at a later date if business improves?

Considering some key areas could make the difference:

Recruitment…

…can be a bit tricky. The team that you are recruiting to is much smaller and will work together more intensely, over a longer period than any project teams within your business. So, considering the recruitment process, it may be worth the extra money to look at psychometric testing. If you have one person in role at the moment, ensure that you have their input into the recruitment process. They may not be managing the new employee, but you will need them to have a productive working relationship. Having their input into the recruitment process will be invaluable in setting their relationship off on a positive note. Plan well ahead, not just the interviews, but the whole process. Ensure that you are clear about the role, the overlap, and how your internal systems will support the role holders.

Monitor and appraise…

…the employees. Not just in relation to the output and performance in the role, but also in relation to how they manage the job share between them. If they can come up with improvements to communications and processes, allow them to develop them and take responsibility for them. They will want to perform well (the beauty of a little competition), however, don’t let that competition become destructive. Be aware that there will inevitably be some tensions – particularly at the beginning. Being prepared to intervene quickly, perhaps with some low-level mediation or some on-going joint coaching sessions, could make the difference between healthy challenge and fall out.

Be clear;

the individuals will need to communicate well in terms of the role. However, as a business you will need to be clear with them about the role but also their responsibilities within it. They will need to understand what their objectives are and how they have to work together to achieve them. Again, communication will be key.

 

It probably won’t be plain sailing, but having employees never is! There are some great old adages “two heads are better than one”, and “a problem shared is a problem solved”. If you relate those to your business, having two employees working on a project usually results in a better outcome. And having two employees working an issue usually results in a timely and productive end point. So why wouldn’t you consider job share?

If you feel that you might have the opportunity to utilise job share or any other form of flexible working in your business but are unsure where to start, please give us a call and we will be happy to help.

Lindsay Baker Character
Written by:
Lindsay Baker
Head of HR
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