Here at Ten2Two, our flexible and part-time recruitment agency is getting more enquiries about job shares. When senior employees need greater flexibility in their lives to help organise their home commitments, job shares can be a very good way for businesses and employees to benefit from two heads rather than one.
As part of the Mindset Shift Summit discussion around flexible working, we heard some invaluable tips for making job shares work. These professionals are showing the world that job shares are viable options and any perceived barriers are either worked around or, as is often the case when it comes to flexible working, not actually barriers at all.
Those in the flexible working know have usually heard of Angela Kitching and Hannah Pearce, Head of External Affairs for Age UK. These two formidable senior professionals, fill one position for their employer – a forward-thinking organisation that’s benefitting from a job share in more ways than one.
Here we outline their top tips for making job shares work successfully.
Establish trust with your ‘other half’
If you don’t have your job share partner’s back, you may as well get your coat now. By building each other up when the other person isn’t around, you can show your commitment to the role. Angela says, “I work harder to finish off work that Hannah has asked me to do as I know it’s important and people can see that we’re building each other up.”
Communication, communication, communication
Communication will be organised by the two job share employees, because it’s in their interests to make the role work. Employers needn’t worry that work will slip through the net because the job share team will establish a way to ensure a single line of verbal communication is given to the rest of the team – so that everyone is in the know and happy.
Make sure everyone knows the ‘out of office’ rule
There will be times when a job share employee needs to contact their opposite on their days off. Work out a set way of doing this – Angela and Hannah do this by text message but only for urgent enquiries that need an immediate answer. And by doing so, they can stop small problems becoming bigger ones. But, as Angela says, “it’s important to respect each other’s caring responsibilities and not abuse this need to get in touch on our non-working days.”
Know how you will make decisions and don’t double up
Job share duos have to make judgement calls and may not always agree, so it’s important they have a way of working around this that doesn’t impact the business.
Angela says, “We never undermine each other so that if the decision has been made once, it’s been made. We don’t overrule the other person’s decision. If we disagree, we have that conversation which brings a second professional view and that can open up ways of working that helps the team to see how and why decisions are made. But we don’t duplicate work where it isn’t needed.”
Decide who is managing which team members
When you manage a team as part of your duties, job shares will have to work out which employees they will be in charge of overseeing. Hannah says, “We line manage different people within our team but we keep in touch with what’s going on across the team so that if we are in and the other person isn’t, we can talk and balance and manage that. We’ve never had a problem here.”
Flip your job share days over annually
Hannah and Angela switch their days every year because they have different meetings depending on the day of the week. By flipping their days over, their clients and business contacts get to know both of them and their skills stay fresh and they can own every aspect of the role.
Job shares help employers benefit from greater productivity
From an employer’s point of view, a senior job share like this gives businesses top talent for six days of the week rather than five. It is way more cost effective than losing senior professionals – often female – and at a time when diversity and the gender pay gap is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, a job share should be viewed with greater favouritism.
Job shares reduce the need to hire more staff, which Age UK used to do, and now the organisation makes savings by employing two people in one role. For Age UK, the job share option was a more attractive proposition than losing both members of staff. And it has certainly paid off.
Employees need flexibility – it gives everyone a boost
Flexibility is a hot topic, but for many years, job shares have played second fiddle to compressed working weeks. As part-time positions are still high in demand by senior professionals – and equally scarce – we expect to see job shares making a surge as more people demand flexible working patterns thanks to better technology and a rethink around work-life balance.
Angela says, “The team know that while they might not be in our position now, they could be in the future, so they embrace the job share – they are flexible – but the context of our work has helped this. What we do gives them confidence to see that as an employer, we are open to flexibility. And why wouldn’t you want to find ways show the advantages to the organisation?”
Angela Kitching also highlights that without her job share, she might not still be in work.
“One of my children has complex disabilities so this is a long-term part-time commitment for me – I can’t flex my hours and buy in more childcare – and the reason I am still at work. You might be facing insurmountable odds getting back to work but think about what it is you can offer and really be prepared to market it. Your experience and your ability to deliver that work and who you are is valuable. Employers gain an enormous amount in keeping people like us in the workplace.”