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Job Sharing Helps Staff Have More Flexibility

Job Sharing Helps Staff Have More Flexibility

Keeping good people sometimes means offering unconventional work arrangements, such as role splitting between two workers.

You can split hairs. But jobs? Why not. Work-sharing programs twin two people in a single position. Flexible arrangements help keep some good workers.

Thing is it’s kind of a b*tch to manage. Dividing roles equally between employees poses problems. And two heads sometimes just turn into huger headaches.

Anyway, it’s worth considering as another cheap perk. Set it up right, though. Else sharers will be at each other’s throats when you bellow “Which one of you screwed up here?”


Job Sharing Structures
Take two staff who want to work part-time. Make sure they’re not sworn, enemies. Mash ‘em up in one full-time role. Toss in healthy pinches of guidance and oversite. Presto: job sharing! 

Two forms of this concoction exist. One’s based on twinning, where work-splitters do similar tasks seamlessly. The other’s an "island model." Sharers stake out their own territory, working on different activities.

This format’s popular where a role can be cracked in half, based on clashing skill sets. Employers net two unalike specialists for the same dime.

Say a small department needs both an IT techno-wiz and a plain-talking trainer. But the budget’s busted, or neither role merits an FTE. Two job sharers with separate know-how's could be a solution. Cross-training these independent contributors to cover for the other fills gaps.

More common is two similar staff divvying up a job. Hours can vary; sometimes overlapping, others on different days. Mornings vs. afternoon’s another approach, like shifts. The sharers check each other’s work (built-in quality control). Cover each other too on days off. 


Where’s The Catch?
Sounds sweet, till a sharer’s stuck with a freeloader’s ghost work. Or one person pulls a dumb move, wrecking the project and stranding their counterpart. Evaluating equitably individual performance is crucial.

Another drag is time spent getting up to speed every switch. Deciphering (what had better be) carefully drafted notes and choosing what to do next. What if there’s a mix-up or conflicting approaches? When the second party’s incommunicado, one-sided decisions could lead to pummeling. 

Another thing to consider. Sharers might not build the deepest range of skills as if they were doing the whole job. This might limit their mobility within the Org. 


Doin’ It Right
Unconventional arrangements need planning and supervision. For work sharing, it’ll rest on managing expectations and handshakes on who does what.

Managers probably haven’t seen a split role. Train them on the ins and outs. They may have to referee when tasks are divided, workspaces shared, computer and other equipment set up and exchanged. 

They should also help draft an agreement between partakers: what each will be responsible for, and how they’ll be appraised (individually and team). Stick in communication protocols. How disputes will be doused. Guidelines on joint or separate decision making will be resolved.

Job sharing’s a juggling act with upsides for employers and staff. Treated cavalierly balls get dropped damagingly