How job-sharing could bring huge value to your business

- February 3, 2023 5 MIN READ


When considering a step back from the full-time daily grind, most people go straight to the obvious options: part-time or casual employment, freelance work, or starting their own business. However, an often-overlooked alternative to full-time employment is job-sharing.

Jen Manuel and Kate Downing are two senior marketers who commenced their first job-sharing arrangement when both wanted to progress their careers whilst balancing the demands of their young families. They have worked together for four years across two companies, proving the benefits a job-sharing arrangement can bring to both employees and businesses.

“It was a first for our employer, and we were determined to not only make it work but to prove that it could be even more valuable to an employer than having one person in a role,” says Kate. It has been a winning formula, with the pair receiving several awards in their roles.

Realising that their working arrangement ultimately brought value to their employer, in 2019, Kate and Jen decided to look for new opportunities together. “We knew this wouldn’t be easy, but we developed a fairly persuasive argument backed by the proof of what we had delivered,” says Jen.

Jen Manuel and Kate Downing

Jen Manuel and Kate Downing have been job-sharing for four years.

What is job-sharing?

Ideally, job-sharing is not meshing two part-time roles together but a sincere split of one role between two people.

For employers, it can deliver increased productivity and creativity from two people working optimally whilst providing flexibility and high job satisfaction for employees.

Making it work

Jen and Kate say some key personal attributes strengthen their ability to job-share.

“We are extremely organised individuals who don’t require a lot of guidance. Our project management skills, attention to detail, and collaborative working style have enabled us to be successful over the past four years,” says Kate.

Jen and Kate prefer to share a week with three days each, which allows for a crossover day each week to ensure flawless continuation, transparency and alignment on strategic approaches.

“We find this delivers confidence within the business in our joint ability to deliver,” says Jen.

Most importantly, the duo approaches the role with communication at the heart of everything to ensure continuity, service, and support for their teams and all stakeholders.

“Communicating with each other, the greater team and external agencies is key to this approach being successful,” said Kate. “We ensure that we schedule any goal-setting, development and strategy meetings on a shared day when we are both in attendance,” says Kate. “In our most recent role, we managed team meetings and WIPs with individuals jointly and checked in regularly with our team.”

Both understand that flexibility is a critical factor in a successful job-sharing role. “Working in a shared role, flexibility is key, and we have both moved working days to ensure we attend business-critical workshops and off-site meetings where required,” says Jen. “During periods of increased workload, we have each been able to offer the business additional workdays.”

Two women talking in office

How to make job-sharing work for your business

Dividing a role whilst maintaining a singular role’s deliverables can be met with hesitation by employers. Team management, additional salary and training are often cited. However, Jen and Kate’s experience has demonstrated the value of having two experienced professionals working together.

As an example, in their first job share, Jen and Kate were responsible for all marketing strategy and execution with the company’s top client, ultimately delivering success to both the client and their employer. “During this time, we continually checked in with key stakeholders to ensure the customer was happy with our level of service and not experiencing any barriers due to the working arrangement,” says Kate. “Feedback in all cases was extremely positive, due in most part to our seamless and meticulous handovers and alignment on all strategies and approaches.”

Some employers may be hesitant due to perceived complications with pay structure and equipment needs of two employees rather than one. Kate and Jen say it has been quite straightforward.

“In our previous roles, we were hired separately as part-time employees, and we were remunerated in the same way. In both roles, we were each provided the equipment required to perform our role. However, we shared a workspace which we navigated at any time we were in the office together. Where appropriate, we shared logins for some applications. However, most of our software access was individual. We had separate email addresses and ensured we copied each other on all communication and ensured the team did too.

“There is additional investment from the business when it comes to equipment, however, we believe that the benefits far outweigh the additional cost required.”

Two young co-workers in meeting

Benefits of job-sharing

There are many benefits to a job share arrangement for employers, including:

Productivity increases: Job-sharers bring two sets of experience when compared to one sole employee. Personal leave is one of the largest disruptors to business, but if job-sharers don’t take leave at the same time, the role will continue to function. If one person leaves the organisation, skill and knowledge are retained and the role delivery continues.

Retention: With Australia experiencing record-low unemployment rates, businesses are desperate to retain staff and minimise hiring costs. Job-sharing can improve retention as it allows both career-driven achievements and work-life balance, with job-sharers appreciating the flexibility.

Talent acquisition: By advocating a flexible working environment, a business can attract additional talent who may not have considered the workplace previously.

Accountability and ownership: These increase significantly when job-sharing, especially when both have a professional working relationship. “We endeavour to ensure the other is set up for success on the days they are working,” says Jen. “Essentially, we always strive to be the best for each other.”

Employers offering a job-share must consider:

Clearly defining the role: Despite any job-sharer’s working relationship with the other, ensure clarity on the expectations of the role and how it will be divided. Contractual issues, including how public holidays, overtime and leave will be awarded, must be clear.

Assisting managers: The direct management of the job-sharers is a key role. This person will need support, especially when addressing performance management and identifying any blocks to the working relationship.

Company-wide communication: If job-sharing is new to a business, other team members may be wary. Ensuring staff are aware of the role, why job-sharing will be occurring, the benefits to the business, and clarifying reporting structures will help staff adapt to the new structure.

Regular reviews: Regularly review and revise the job-sharing arrangement with the job-sharers, their managers, and the wider team to ensure the job-share is working.

This article was first published on Flying Solo, read the original here.

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