Flexible working arrangements are now more prevalent than ever and have been embraced by many organisations across different industries. Whilst the rise in flexible working arrangements has enabled many organisations to fulfill their recruitment needs, there are still yet so many still experiencing challenges when recruiting for talent and often struggle to retain top talent after a successful recruitment process. This leads us to the question of whether job sharing could be one of the solutions that need to be explored more as a viable flexible working arrangement for hard to recruit roles. Job sharing in Australia is potentially not as well understood as other forms of flexible working arrangements.
What Is Job Sharing?
In its simplest form, job sharing is when two employees cooperatively share the same position. Job sharing can be either two employees working different days of the week to fulfill the requirements of one position or two employees sharing the same position but undertaking separate responsibilities for that. Two employees sharing a position has their own advantages and disadvantages including challenges to overcome and opportunities to leverage. The obvious benefit is if you have high-caliber candidates wanting to work part-time but the position is a full-time one. In this scenario, if you had two standout candidates, you would recruit them with a job share arrangement to fulfill the full-time needs of the role.
Evolution of flexible working arrangements
Flexible working arrangements have rapidly evolved over the last few years to now incorporate working from home and job sharing as opposed to the traditional part-time and casual offerings. Job sharing is not a new concept, but it has been gaining momentum in Australia over the last few years. According to a recent post by Indeed, the number of large employers utilizing a flexible work policy or strategy increased from 73% in 2018-19 to 79% in 2020-21. The other interesting figure from Indeed is that 64% of these employers offered job-sharing arrangements, this would indicate that job sharing is now quite common in Australian workplaces.
It is important to note that there is still however a relatively low uptake of job sharing by candidates according to Indeed. The number of candidates searching for job share roles remains low. Candidates who would prefer job-sharing arrangements could be searching for part-time or casual roles or more broadly for flexible work. As highlighted earlier, job sharing is potentially the least understood flexible work arrangement. Whilst these are not overly encouraging statements for job sharing, they could signify a smaller number of better-suited candidates searching for that arrangement. This could potentially be the competitive advantage that an organisation needs to outperform competitors within the market. Having the right talent at the right place and at the right time could mean a substantial difference in the achievement of strategic objectives.
Lockdowns and their impact
There is potentially a correlation between lockdowns and the need for an increase in job sharing. After all, it enables organisations to have a backup if one of the employees sharing the role needs to unexpectedly go into lockdown. The role is able to be temporarily absorbed by the other employee and provides continuity for the organisation.
Job sharing popularity
Job sharing appears to be more popular in white-collar occupations that require formal tertiary education as opposed to blue-collar roles. Roles that have a higher inherent requirement for collaboration and teamwork lend themselves better to job-sharing arrangements. After all collaboration and teamwork are essential in a job-sharing arrangement for it to be effective.
Benefits of job sharing
Job sharing has benefits for both the employer and employees, therefore we will separate the two for clarity.
1. The attraction of candidates that want additional flexibility and want a challenging role.
2. Increased ability to provide continuity of service, as two employees perform the one position.
3. Retention of high-performing employees whose circumstances might have changed e.g., caring responsibilities.
4. Increased ability to allow for annual and cover for sick leave.
5. Lower absenteeism due to the flexible working arrangement which provides better work-life balance.
6. Enhanced skill set and experience for the organisation.
1. Enhanced ability to take on high-level roles with more responsibility.
2. Increased flexibility of fewer hours.
3. Opportunity to learn and share with someone within the same position.
4. Enhanced work-life balance.
5. Potential for more challenging roles within the organisation and increased level of seniority.
Disadvantages of job sharing
In a similar fashion to benefits, job sharing comes with some disadvantages that should not be ignored before proceeding. The lists below should be helpful.
1. High level of difficulty in finding a compatible replacement if one sharer leaves.
2. The influx in management and supervision requirements is due to two employees sharing one position.
3. Monitoring the workload and re-assigning work if there is an imbalance might be difficult.
4. Additional office equipment will be required and there is an additional need for workspace if workdays overlap.
5. Job sharers may not be compatible, and issues may arise.
6. Higher chance of conflict with two employees sharing a position if not executed properly.
1. Transitioning to a full-time arrangement or into another role can be challenging.
2. Reduced pay and benefits due to lesser hours of work.
Successful job share
For job sharing to be successful, there are a few considerations to weigh up before proceeding. If you are considering implementing job sharing within your organisation, then the below should be helpful.
1. Can the work and responsibilities of the position be clearly delineated and assigned to each employee?
2. Can pay parity be ensured if both employees have the same responsibility?
3. Can the position be clearly defined to account for how the work will be monitored and re-adjusted to ensure even distribution?
4. Is it possible to establish a clear scope of authority for decision-making? Each individual needs to be clear on what level of authority they have and their decision-making designation.
5. Can the accountabilities be broken down into individual targets and clearly communicated?
6. It is possible to ensure that the lines of communication between the job sharers are effectively established and maintained? Communication will be key to the success of job sharing and mitigating any misunderstandings or points of failure.
7. Can you identify two candidates that are compatible with working closely together and have matching skill sets to complement each other?
8. Can a handover process be established where two employees share the same role but work on different days?
The above are guidelines for some of the things you need to consider and ought to give some consideration to before proceeding with job sharing. If you need assistance, you can always contact us at HR Expertise and we will be happy to help.
Job share has the potential of enabling organisations to attract and retain talent in a highly competitive market. When correctly executed, job sharing can enable organisations to gain a competitive advantage by accessing more skill sets, experience, and savoir-faire. Job sharing gives greater flexibility and work-life balance to employees. Under the right circumstances, where an appropriate position is shared between two people who are compatible, have a predisposition to collaboration or teamwork, and can clearly communicate with each other, job sharing can work.
At HR Expertise, our HR Consulting in Melbourne and across Australia can assist with job sharing. Contact us today, we would love to work with you.