Perhaps you want to grow your small business, so you’re looking to cut back hours at your 9-5. A great part-time job could be all you need to reach your financial goals.
Working less would help you care for your kids or aging parents. Rather than retire, you’d love to work part-time to have a better work-life balance.
No matter the reason you want to work part-time, an option to consider is job sharing.
Some employers can offer flexible work arrangements like job shares. Other options include flextime, compressed workweeks, and being able to work-from-home.
Read on to learn more about job share positions, the pros and cons of working in job-sharing roles, and tips on successfully sharing a role with a work partner.
What is a Job Share Position?
When you’re working in a job share role, you’ll be splitting the hours, workload, and salary of a full-time position with another employee.
Job shares are considered flexible arrangements because these positions are not ordinarily part-time. They’d typically be filled by one full-time employee.
Those who share jobs generally don’t work the same hours, but hours may overlap, allowing time for the employees to meet and discuss their work.
Many job-sharers split the workload and hours equally. But depending on the company, position, and employees’ needs – the split doesn’t have to be 50-50.
Arrangements of 60-40, 70-30, or even 60-60 (for some overlap) can work – whatever is best for all involved.
The two employees may both perform specific responsibilities for the position or divide duties up, each taking on tasks aligning with their individual strengths and interests.
Employees in job-sharing arrangements must communicate and cooperate to be effective in this type of position.
Supervisors and colleagues must understand the roles of those who share jobs, so there isn’t confusion over who’s responsible for different aspects of the position.
The higher the level of trust and commitment to being successful in this arrangement, the more likely the employees who are job-sharing will enjoy and excel in their work.
You won’t find job-sharing an option at every company because it doesn’t work for every employer.
But an organization may decide job sharing is a good option when it meets the needs of respected employees or highly talented applicants. If a position can be split into two part-time roles, it can make sense for a company.
Benefits of Job Sharing
In addition to being a flexible work arrangement that some employees seek out and prefer, job sharing offers advantages for many employers as well.
Here are just some of the ‘pros’ of a job-sharing arrangement.
Pros For Employees:
Flexibility. When you’re working part-time, you’ll have more control over your schedule. You’re able to arrange time to care for children, support aging parents, or work on your small business.
Working out, medical appointments, and running errands can be done when many others are at work, saving you time and stress, and helping you achieve a better work-life balance.
Greater satisfaction with work. If you’re only interested in part-time roles or want to cut back from full-time work hours, job sharing may be an excellent option.
Sharing a position may also help someone suffering from job burnout or indecision over retiring and leaving a career they love. Being able to work less by choice can improve one’s attitude or satisfaction with their work.
Increased productivity. When you share responsibilities, you’re accountable not only to your employer but to your job partner. You won’t work as often, so it’ll be easier to settle in and focus on the tasks you must get done.
With more flexibility and an improved attitude toward work, you may be more creative and energized.
Your collaboration with a work partner can result in more learning and synergy of ideas that can also benefit your employer.
Advantages For Employers:
Improved morale. By allowing pairs of workers to job share, employers are meeting the needs of their employees.
These workers will likely be more dedicated to their companies and engaged in the responsibilities they are performing. Keeping great workers is no easy task. Loyal and enthusiastic employees boost the culture of the organization.
May save money. When workers have more flexibility and options, they may need less time off. This can save employers money on overtime or hiring additional staff.
Flexible work arrangements like job sharing may also improve the recruitment and retention of employees.
When hiring takes less time, and employee turnover is reduced, less money is spent interviewing and training new workers.
Some employers may also save money if job sharers don’t receive the same employee benefits as their full-time colleagues.
Nurtures talent. In job shares, employers get the experience, skills, and creativity of two employees instead of one.
Happier, more satisfied, and more productive workers will want to perform at their best levels and keep learning.
Experienced staff who downshift hours can mentor and help grow the skills of less-experienced job partners too.
Drawbacks of Sharing a Job
While it sounds like job sharing has plenty of advantages for both the worker and their employer, there are also several ‘cons’ for both parties to consider.
Downsides For Employees:
Frustration. While it seems like this is a perfect work situation, an employee also faces frustrations.
Your job partner may not be as committed or work as hard as you initially thought they would.
Your employer or supervisor may not be as invested in the arrangement as you are, which can create a stressful situation.
If communication issues arise, it may be challenging to do your job effectively or keep coworkers or customers happy.
More work. Can you really get an equal division of labor in your business? It may be possible in many careers – but not in all.
You and your job partner may end up with different responsibilities that result in you working more or harder.
Some job sharers may also end up with more work than one full-time employee would be given, due to the responsibilities assigned or taken on. Or due to management assigning additional projects to those sharing a job.
Long-Term Impact. People shouldn’t enter into a job share without really taking a look at the future.
When you pass up a full-time job for part-time work or reduce your hours by half, you won’t only earn less, but you’ll probably have a significant reduction in employee benefits and other compensation.
Make sure you consider how a job share will impact seniority in your organization and your ability to work full-time again. And don’t forget to consider how job sharing will impact your retirement.
Job sharing can be a terrific arrangement for many, but significant life changes like divorce, serious illnesses, or injuries do happen.
Be sure your plan to work part-time is backed by a financial plan supporting you and your family.
Cons For Employers:
Confusion. When two people cover one job, there may be on-going confusion over who is responsible for different tasks and assignments.
Supervisors, colleagues and customers may experience frustration when trying to figure out the roles of the job sharers – even with good communication by the job partners and organization.
More work. Supervisors and managers will have an extra person to communicate with and evaluate in this flexible arrangement.
They may need to reorganize schedules to fit in training time for both employees. Or make adjustments so job partners can have collaborative time together.
Those in charge may also need to mediate challenging situations that arise between staff in job sharing roles.
Increase in Costs. Companies may increase their expenses to retain talented employees sharing a job if they decide to provide full-time benefits to both employees.
Costs may also go up if one employee leaves a job share partnership, and they can’t find someone else willing to work part-time.
This leaves an organization in the position to demand the remaining job partner to work full-time, re-distribute responsibilities to other employees, or hire someone full-time to replace the employee who left.
8 Tips for Effective Job Sharing
- Don’t make a rash decision about creating or taking a job share position. Fewer hours may be very attractive now, but carefully consider the future impact on your career and finances.
- Make sure your job partner and the responsibilities you’re given are a good fit for you. You don’t want working part-time to create additional stress in your life.
- Everything about your job share position needs to be put in writing with your employer. Don’t assume verbal agreements are enough to protect you if questions come up or things don’t work out.
- Understand you’re in a partnership – which means you’ll share the ups and the downs with someone else too. Share the praise and correct any mistakes without pointing fingers.
- To help avoid frustration, be sure to have consistent and clear communication with your job share partner, coworkers, supervisors, and customers. It may take some extra work, but it will be worth your efforts as it boosts your effectiveness in your role.
- If problems arise between you and the employee you're sharing a job with, don’t ignore them. It’s important to seek solutions together. Work to stay issue-focused and ask for help from your supervisor, if needed.
- If you and your job partner are working on projects together, use online tools like Asana or Trello to help stay organized, and track tasks related to your assignments.
- Remember to keep your focus on your work and not your job partners. Let your manager or boss supervise and evaluate them.
Final Thoughts On Job Sharing
There are many people interested in finding positions that offer more flexibility than typical 9-5 jobs. Job sharing is just one option that works for those interested in part-time work.
While there are plenty of positives to this type of arrangement, you still need to consider the drawbacks seriously.
Working part-time doesn’t just impact your paycheck. Remember, essential benefits, including health, life, and disability insurance, may not be offered with a job-sharing position.
When you're decades away from retirement, you also might not realize how part-time hours could impact your Social Security benefits when you’re eligible to collect.
But if after weighing all the benefits and drawbacks of job sharing, including the potential financial and career impacts, you decide a job share role is right for you, there's a good chance you’ll love everything about it.
Follow the job-sharing tips above to enhance your success!
Vicki and Amy are authors of Estate Planning 101 – a Crash Course in Planning for the Unexpected -coming soon from Adams Media.