Job Sharing: How to Make Both Employees Happy

Job sharing is an alternative schedule that allows two people to handle a single position. It can be beneficial to both the employees involved and the company, but it also takes more care to create a suitable arrangement that keeps both employees happy. Learn how to make a job-sharing arrangement work in your business.


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What is job sharing?

Job sharing describes a work arrangement where two employees split the responsibilities of one position in a work schedule that’s mutually beneficial. It’s ideal for positions that need a full-time commitment, not just part-time attention. It’s different from just making a job part-time in that the duties are shared. A part-time employee handles the entire job in fewer hours per week. Job-sharing employees split the full-time duties of the job, sharing the workload and projects.


How job sharing works

In job sharing, two people handle the responsibilities of a single job. There are a number of ways to manage the division and work scheduling, including each person doing different parts of the job or both employees handling all the responsibilities while they’re at work.


For example, a teacher who wants to work only part-time might job share with another teacher who also wants to work only part-time. One of them teaches the students in the morning, and the other teaches in the afternoon. Both teachers handle all the teaching responsibilities while they’re at school taking turns. This ensures the classroom has coverage all day, and each teacher works part-time hours.


An example of employees dividing the duties is an HR generalist position filled by two people. One person might handle job advertising, recruiting, interviewing and hiring. The other employee might do onboarding, training, benefits and employee relations. All duties get completed, and each person has ownership over a certain part of those duties. The employees could work the same hours or overlapping hours, since they’re each handling a specific part of the job, or they could work opposite hours to have more coverage in the HR department.


Benefits of offering a job-sharing program

Having two people fill one position comes with extra paperwork and might cost you more in benefits. You might think hiring one full-time employee is a better solution. However, offering a job-sharing program can benefit you and your employees.


Consider these benefits of allowing job sharing:

  • It improves retention of your top employees who might not be available for a full-time position due to a change in circumstances.
  • Job sharing can attract new talent if a candidate doesn’t want a full-time position.
  • The employees who job share can have a better work-life balance because of the job flexibility, which reduces their stress and keeps them happier.
  • Employees can be more productive and motivated when they get to job share because it fits their situation best.
  • The two employees naturally hold each other accountable, which can improve the quality of work.
  • It can increase collaboration, improve problem-solving and encourage innovation because you have two people sharing their ideas.
  • You can balance out the strengths of both employees to get a wider set of skills and experience.
  • When one employee is gone for vacation or illness, you still have coverage for that position, which is especially useful if no one else handles those tasks or it’s a critical role in your company.
  • If one employee leaves the job-sharing arrangement, the remaining employee can train the replacement easily or take over full-time. This creates more continuity and less downtime if the job-sharing situation changes.

Advice for keeping both employees happy

For a job-sharing arrangement to work, both parties have to feel comfortable. Balancing the needs and preferences of two people in one position while ensuring the work gets done efficiently can be challenging. These tips can increase the chances of a successful job-sharing arrangement.


Set a consistent schedule

Scheduling for a job-sharing situation can happen in different ways. First, decide how you’re splitting the hours. Is it a 50/50 split with each employee working 20 hours, or will one employee work more than the other? Include the number of hours each employee regularly works in the contract to avoid confusion or conflict. Address how you’ll handle overtime as well if it’s necessary for the position.


Determine if the two employees will work at the same time or opposite hours. If you need full-time coverage during all your business hours, you’ll schedule the two employees opposite each other so they work at different times. That could be half-days, with one employee working in the morning and one in the afternoon, or you can split days. One person might work Monday, Tuesday and every other Wednesday while the other works the opposite Wednesdays plus Thursday and Friday. The days can be split up in different ways that fit each person’s schedule.


If you have a set amount of tasks that need to be done and each employee does their own, scheduling is more flexible. They can work at the same time to collaborate, or they can each work their hours at a time that’s best for them. This flex scheduling can help keep employees happier.


No matter how the schedule works, keep it consistent. This ensures you get the coverage you need and all tasks are completed.


Be flexible

Flexibility is essential, especially at the beginning of a job-sharing situation. You might need to modify the agreement or make accommodations to help the arrangement work better. The needs of each employee can change over time, or the two employees might need to temporarily change their arrangement.


Clearly define roles

If you’re filling an established position, you already know the overall responsibilities of the job. Splitting the job between two people becomes more complex. All duties need to be covered, but it’s not always easy to divide them fairly.


Some companies use an island approach, which means each employee handles a specific and distinct set of responsibilities. This is ideal when the two employees have unique skill sets, each best suited to a particular part of the job.


The twin approach means both employees do the same tasks. They most often work opposite schedules to provide full-time coverage.


Define salary and benefits

If one person accepts a position full-time, they get all the compensation and benefits. When you have two people sharing the position, benefits and time off can get trickier. You can split the sick days, vacation time and other leave that full-time employees get between the two employees based on the percentage of time each one works. If they each work 50% of the hours, split the time off evenly. If one works 70% of the time and the other 30%, divide the time off using those percentages.


Salary negotiations can also be tricky. You can split the full-time salary or negotiate with each job partner individually. Negotiating a different pay rate for each partner can lead to tension, so the easiest route is paying them the same hourly rate or a portion of the salary equivalent to how much they work.


Involve both employees in decisions

When you initially form the job-sharing agreement, bring in both parties to draft the details. The involved employees are more likely to be happy when they create the agreement themselves and have ownership over the arrangement. You might need to guide some of the decisions or modify some of their terms, but letting them have a major say in the arrangement starts it off on a positive note.


If changes need to be made or major decisions come up in the arrangement, let both parties have a say. Involving only one of the employees in major decisions can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction.


Establish communication procedures

Communication becomes more difficult when two people handle one position. You might have vendors who work with both employees or coworkers who need information from both people. Communication between the two job sharers also needs to be well-defined.


Having a shared email address can clear up communication issues between the job sharers and other contacts. Everyone has one email address as the point of contact, so there’s no confusion about who to email for different inquiries. This also allows both employees to see all communications to avoid any information getting lost between the two.


Create a clear communication plan between the two employees, especially if they work opposite hours and can’t communicate in person. Define what types of things need to be shared and how to do it.


Have a handover routine

If the two employees work opposite schedules and work on the same tasks, establish a handover routine. You might overlap the schedules by 30 minutes if the employees work half-days. This gives them a chance to discuss what’s happened and what needs to be completed in the afternoon. They can also discuss any issues that came up.


If the employees don’t see each other when they switch positions, consider a written or virtual handover system. This might include a checklist, notes or other key elements the two employees need to communicate.


Ensure both employees complete these handover routines. If one fails to do them, it could leave the other person frustrated or without the key information needed to take over the position.


Review the arrangement regularly

Check in with both parties regularly to see how the job-sharing situation is working. This helps you proactively make changes to keep both employees happy. Review the job-sharing team’s work to ensure they’re meeting quality standards, and work with the employees to resolve any issues or give them the tools needed if the quality is slipping. If you notice conflict between the two employees, address it immediately to prevent the situation from getting worse.


Have an end plan

Even if the job-sharing arrangement works well, it might not last. It’s likely that one of the two employees will leave before the other, which puts you in a difficult situation. Since you have full-time needs for the position, you must find a replacement as soon as possible to maintain productivity.


Create a plan for the end of the arrangement without knowing how or when it will end. You might find a replacement for the one person who leaves, or you might revert the position to one full-time job, offering it to the remaining employee. Make sure both parties understand what happens when the current arrangement ends to avoid conflict.


Evaluate employees individually and together

When employees share one position, you naturally need to look at the combined work since it’s a team effort. However, it’s also important to evaluate the employees individually. One person might be doing the bulk of the work or performing at a much higher level than the other. In that situation, giving both employees a negative review is unfair to the person performing above expectations.

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