Let’s start with the Problem. Consider a working parent/mother who wants to care for their new born for a few years, an employee who needs more personal time to care for an ailing family member, or an employee who wants to get additional training and education. They all want to reduce their working hours while maintaining their careers. And there are more such situations.
What options do they have besides leaving their careers for some part-time job or completely opting out of the workforce? On the other hand, simply making their current jobs a part-time position may not be a feasible solution if the employer needs to maintain a full-time employee for that job to achieve its business objectives. The solution has to be a win-win arrangement between employees and employer for it to work.
On the employer side, consider the cost of an attrition (esp. if it is a senior female employee). According to SHRM, the estimated cost of replacing an employee could be 50% – 250% of his/her annual salary depending on their seniority and specialty. Needless to say, the cost of losing a female employee in a leadership role cannot just be measured in dollars and cents; it is way more than that. (My strategy in this case is simple, if you already have the talent in your company, don’t lose them!!)
Solution? Let’s talk about Job Sharing. In a job-sharing work model, two professionals (“job mates”) with common and complementary skills partner to share a full-time job, each on reduced working hours. They both maintain their careers and continue to utilize and grow their skills.
The most common use case for job sharing is when an employee who wants to reduce his/her working hours (of course at lower compensation) gets approval from their management & HR to job share the position. S/he will use a platform like jobpairing.com to find a compatible job mate inside the company to pair up with or find an external talent to job share with. The external talent will go through employer’s standard hiring processes.
Two special cases that are worth highlighting are:
- Time Swapping. A special case of job sharing deployed within Cisco is called Time Swapping, in which two employees swap a percentage of their time with each other (e.g., 20%) to do the other person’s job. This is a brilliant approach for cross training employees, growing more skills within the company, and supporting employees’ career goals and growth. Besides, it will be appealing to the millennial generation and their “gig” mentality.
- Top Sharing. A term that has been used in some organizations to specifically refer to job sharing at the highest levels (read C-level, including CEO positions) is “top sharing”. It is an important distinction to make which highlights that job sharing should not be thought of as a work-life balance solution for employees at the lower levels of the organization.
Benefits of job sharing to Employees. The most significant benefit to employees is career continuity while achieving greater work-life balance. It presents new possibilities to employees, for example:
- Those who need to provide care for their children at home or for an elderly.
- Those who are looking to gradually exit the workforce or individuals who want to re-enter the workforce on reduced work-hours.
- Those who want to continue their education and training
- Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who need more personal time to follow their dream on the side.
Benefits of job sharing to Employers. Offering job sharing as a benefit to employees, has quite a few advantages for the employers:
- Boost talent acquisition and retention, esp. when it comes to women and millennials in general. 66% of employees want greater work-life balance.
- Increase employee job satisfaction – 73% of employees say flexibility increases overall job satisfaction.
- Savings through reducing attrition rate.
- “Two Brains” on the job leads to more efficient problem solving and faster time-to-money.
- Complementary skills that are rarely found in one individual.
- Business continuity as one job mate is built-in back up for the other.
In my next blog I will cover deployment of Job Sharing as a new work model for an organization. We will also cover the challenges it poses and a few recommendations to deal with them.