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How to Land a Job Share and Make It Work

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Megan Hageman
Contributor

Two women working together

Flexibility continues to be a priority in today’s workplace, and there are now multiple options to choose from when trying to achieve that highly sought-after work-life balance—remote work, flex time, unlimited paid time off, and now—job sharing. Such arrangements are actually desired to the extent that a lack of flexibility is the most common reason a millennial would quit his/her job. 

Those looking to cut back on hours but stay in their careers might benefit from a new(ish) sort of arrangement known as job sharing.

Workers of all ages have reasons for taking one of these more adaptable arrangements, like

  • The need to care for children, a parent, or other family member

  • Looking to ease into retirement

  • Desire to pursue other interests or starting a business while still in need of a steady income

  • The need to care for your own physical health

What is job sharing?  

Job sharing is a work arrangement in which two (or more) employees split the time, workload, and pay of a full-time position.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), approximately 19 percent of organizations allow at least some employees to work on a job share basis. However, with the aging workforce population and the desire for more flexibility, this statistic is slated to grow. 

Type of job share arrangements

The most basic job share arrangement involves splitting the work time and work load 50/50, but job shares can be arranged for the employees who need them. For example, one employee might work 25 hours a week and the other could scale down to just 15. Employees may also have the option of always working separately or spending a few overlapped hours during the week together to collaborate and remain consistent across channels. 

Two other types of job sharing are:

  • The twins model: Both employees share all duties and projects associated with the position. This model involves a great deal of trust, collaboration, and transparency between both parties. 

  • The island model: Each employee specializes in a separate area of the role and their work seldom overlaps. 

  • The intergenerational model: The business will pair a younger and an older employee with various levels of experience to bring two different viewpoints to the position and encourage the relay of information within the organization. 

Read more: How to Negotiate Flexible Work Hours

Job sharing vs. part-time work

You may be thinking that job sharing sounds similar to part-time work, so what are the major differences between this and part-time employment?

A job share arrangement is a form of part-time work in that employees work less than 40 hours per week. However, many traditional part-time positions consist of administrative and support tasks, and part-time employees could be passed up for promotions and advanced responsibilities due to decreased time in the office. 

With job sharing, there is more continuity in the role, which means employers often get more from the work and employees may see more career progress—there’s less stopping and starting for both employer and employee.

The reality of a part-time job may seem like squeezing in a full 40 hours a week into half the time. With job share, employees are more likely to find balance in the amount of work they put in. When one worker is gone, they can be assured that shared duties will be addressed even in their absence.  

Read more: How to Ask Your Boss to Let You Work from Home

Advantages of job sharing

For employees

  • Increased flexibility 

  • Work coverage if one worker is away, making it harder to fall behind

  • Increased productivity and ideation

For employers

  • Increased retention of skilled employees 

  • Two minds coming up with ideas and working toward the same goal 

  • Can remain competitive with other employers

  • Reduced absenteeism 

Downsides of job sharing

For employees

  • Potential work imbalance between employees sharing positions

  • Increased need for schedule planning and communication 

  • Difficulty finding a compatible job share partner 

  • Job share employees may not be eligible for the standard employee benefits package

For employers

  • Difficulty finding the right “match” between job sharers

  • Need to ensure all schedules and work tasks are covered

  • Shared equipment and work space could cause issues

Tips on finding a job share position and making it work

Job share positions are not the most easy to find when you’re career hunting through typical channels. Most aren’t explicitly advertised. A little more research will be needed to dig them up or find out if your current company, or company you’re pursuing, offers a job-sharing program. Many companies may list this kind of arrangement on their employee benefits page, others will need to be found by talking to an HR representative. 

When proposing the idea to a new employer, you should already have a partner in mind. Bring it up early in the interview process. Submit your resumes together along with a joint cover letter that explains the benefits of tackling the work as a team. Let them know if you’ve worked together before—ideally you have—and outline the results of your work together. 

If you’re proposing the idea to your current employer, set a face-to-face meeting to discuss the new arrangement. Let them know why you need more flexibility and talk about the partner you have in mind. If you don’t have a partner in mind, discuss ways you can assist in the search. Work with your employer to create a plan for filling the role and splitting the work. 

It’s important to understand that an employer may turn down your job-share request—it is a non-traditional arrangement. Come to the table prepared with answers to potential concerns, and be upfront with details on how you plan to split the time and workload. 

Read more: How to Negotiate Flexible Work Hour

Tips for mastering your job share

  • Pick a partner who will complement your own skills and background

  • Pick a partner you feel you can be honest with and will be honest with you—trust is key

  • Plan and document everything ahead of time, including hours, assigned duties, desk space, etc., so that arrangements are clear

  • Always let clients and coworkers know schedules and how work is shared

  • Avoid competition with your job share partner—their success is your success

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